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A disrespectful sight

Mandy van Vuuren, when visiting the Geduld cemetery to place flowers at her daughter's plaque on the Wall of Remembrance recently, was shocked at the vandalism that had taken place.

Ever since her daughter died of cancer at the age of four, nearly four years ago, van Vuuren has been visiting the wall to place flowers and gifts at her plaque.

Recently, when she visited to place flowers and a Teddy bear at the wall, she found the wall had been vandalised.

“The plaques which are cemented to the wall have been ripped off, exposing the urns,” she says.

“Luckily my daughter’s urn is still there, but the one right next to hers is gone.”

The plaques, which are square blocks of cement with a marble-like face, are scattered on the grass.

“You can’t leave flowers or anything anymore. Last time, I left a Teddy for my daughter and when I came back, the Teddy had been stolen,” says van Vuuren.

There is no security at the cemetery and the old offices seem to be used by vagrants.

“There is litter and old clothes scattered around the building,” she says, visibly upset.

The cemetery is classified as inactive, as there are no burials taking place at it anymore.

“The vandalism is taking place at other cemeteries and is not unique only to Geduld cemetery as an inactive cemetery, but is experienced at active cemeteries as well,” says Ekurhuleni metro spokesman Sam Modiba.

He says the fence was fixed four times in the last financial year, costing no less than R30 000.

“The fence will again be fixed this year as the fencing of this cemetery is on the priority list,” he says.

“Unfortunately the metro cannot commit to the refurbishment of the Wall of Remembrance because of the previous vandalism and theft of ashes. As a result, residents have not been making bookings to place the ashes at this cemetery anymore,” says Modiba.

Van Vuuren feels that the disrespect for the dead is taking a toll on families who take flowers to the cemetery.

“It breaks my heart to see this. These people use the cemetery as a walk way, they even ride their bikes through here,” she says.

Mandy van Vuuren at the memorial for her daughter at the Wall of Remembrance at Geduld cemetery.
Mandy van Vuuren at the memorial for her daughter at the Wall of Remembrance at Geduld cemetery.

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