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By Itumeleng Mafisa

Digital Journalist

WATCH: Heavy rains lead to graves and tombstones collapsing in Joburg cemeteries

Families have been asked to check on the graves of their loved ones.

Heavy rains that have hit parts of the City of Johannesburg in recent weeks have led to some graves collapsing in cemeteries across the city.

Call to check on the dead

Messages have been sent on local radio stations around Soweto for residents to check if the graves of their loved ones were still intact.

ALSO READ: Joburg residents warned about severe thunderstorms and floods

Several cemeteries in Soweto have been affected including, Doornkop Cemetery, Oliphantsvlei Cemetery and Avalon Cemetery.

Some of the damaged graves and tombstones at Olifantsvlei Cemetery on 24 January 2024. Picture: Michel Bega/The Citizen
Some of the graves at Olifantsvlei Cemetery in Johannesburg have sunk after heavy rains. Picture: Michel Bega/The Citizen

The Citizen spoke to Johannesburg City Parks spokesperson Jenny Moodley who appealed to families who had recent burials to check the graves of their loved ones.

“City Parks has identified a number of graves that have collapsed, due to the incessant rains. City Parks has subsequently made available heaps of sand along the affected areas to assist families in reinstating graves,” Moodley said.

WATCH: Graves affected at Olifantsvlei Cemetery

She said the municipality has already begun processes of filling some graves but The Citizen understands that the damage also included tombstones collapsing and falling apart. It was not clear if there were any exposed remains.

ALSO READ: WATCH: Rain wreaks havoc in Gauteng but no fatalities reported

Municipality filled some graves

“Graves at Avalon Cemetery have been filled, however there are a few graves at Olifantsvlei, due to the high water table, that need to be reinstated. In this regard we urge families to visit Olifantsvlei Cemetery to visit graves of families and to ensure that headstones and the grave is intact,” Moodley said.

Olifantsvlei Cemetery rain graves tombstones
Some of the damaged graves and tombstones at Olifantsvlei Cemetery on 24 January 2024. Picture: Michel Bega/The Citizen

In some instances the rains had even damaged the cemetery infrastructure which has led to gaps in the fencing. This sparked concern for City Parks with criminals taking their activities to the cemeteries.

“These cemeteries including the frequently visited cemeteries have private security posted at the entrance, which are supported by random patrols by JMPD and the City Parks rangers. However due to the sprawling expanse of cemeteries and limited resources, it is not feasible to deploy additional personnel to patrol cemeteries,” Moodley said.

Residents may also call 082 803 0748 or forward an email to tmahlinza@jhbcityparks.com for more information.

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