A drug-addicted woman yelled “moenie my huis vat nie!” (don’t take my home) as the City of Tshwane yesterday demolished an abandoned building in Eersterust cemetery that scores of drug users have been living in.
The cemetery’s former office and ablution facility were full of mattresses, torn couches and clothes. In December, vagrants and addicts were seen having drinking parties at the graveyard.
After the city’s raid to clear the area of vagrants, one drug addict said he had no place to live now. Gathering up his clothes, a bag and a mattress, Leon Adams, 28, said he was considering kicking the habit of smoking nyaope.
“I have been living here for a year and three months because of my drug-taking. I actually want to change my life. That is why I asked to build a room at my home so I can get off the drugs,” he said.
As the building was being bulldozed, ward 43 councillor Benjamin Lawrence said people had complained that the tombstones of their deceased loved ones were being vandalised.
“We are the ones whose loved ones are buried here. The community sees this as a sacred place. But it has become unsafe. Our memories are here. Many of the people who built this community and made it great are buried here,” Lawrence said.
City of Tshwane director for urban management in region 6, Billy Sepuru, said the drug users had also broken the fence around the cemetery, leading to illegal dumping in the graveyard.
Even though the cemetery was no longer in full use, he said residents around it felt unsafe due to the increasing numbers of drug addicts and vagrants living there.
“Half of the fence is gone and it was stolen. We suspect it was mostly the drug users. This place is a haven for drug addicts.
“In December, there were big parties happening here. People were drinking alcohol in the cemetery. People don’t feel safe when they come here to bury their loved ones and we must put a stop to that.”