Cemetery bursting at the seams

14 July 2021 | Local News

Windhoek • [email protected]

At the Gammams Cemetery in Pionierspark, Covid-19 graves are now being dug into the pathway that runs between the graves and the boundary fence. The flower bed in the middle of the cemetery is now also being used to lay people to rest who died during the pandemic.
In another twist, Harold Akwenye, spokesperson for the Windhoek municipality, confirmed the crematorium is out of order again. He said a fan broke at the crematorium on 4 July and that technicians are currently trying to resolve the issue.
According to another municipal spokesperson Lydia Amutenya, there is still enough space at the various cemeteries in Windhoek for now. The municipality is responsible for the Katutura, Oponganda, Khomasdal, Gammams and the Old Location cemeteries in Windhoek.
According to a contractor appointed for the excavation of graves by the municipality, his workers dug 118 graves at the Gammams cemetery in June alone. He said this number does not include people who were buried on top of their loved ones. By adding these graves, we count stands at between 125 and 130 graves. For the two weeks so far in July, they have already dug over 100 graves.
Along with the graves dug by his workers at the Khomasdal cemetery, this brings the count to 182 for the two cemeteries along with 70 that were dug at the Katutura and Opanganda cemetery. On average, there are about 15 funerals here a day.
He said that the municipality has entered into an agreement with funeral directors that they try not to arrange funerals on a Monday or Tuesday, giving contractors a chance to dig graves.
He said it became a problem with all the funerals and family members while they were working with four excavators at the site. He added that there is nothing worse form them than to work while a funeral is being held, but otherwise they will fall behind.
He says they apologize to the families and try to work in another place if they feel they are too intrusive to people who are saying a final farewell. “It is shocking how the deaths are increasing. It works on a person, emotionally and psychologically,” he said.
In the past they dug an average of 30 graves a month.
According to Richard Benade, he and his team started helping with the excavation of graves on Friday due to the backlog. “We dig the hole and someone is buried there almost immediately. We have been digging 45 since Friday. We also dig on Saturdays and Sundays. We now have to dig 132 here against the boundary fence against the main road - all just for Covid-19 deaths. People need to start taking precautions and take care of themselves,” he said.

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