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Weed menace at cemetery
16 Jan 2013
Nalini Naidoo

A HEALTHY dagga plant flourishing in the Howick cemetery had the town’s municipal manager, Dr Mpilo Ngubane, hastily calling on the police to chop down the offending “weed”, before the council found itself on the wrong side of the law.
The municipality was alerted to the shocking state of the cemetery and its potential to turn into a dagga plantation by visitor Rosemary ­Wyatt.
She wrote an open letter to the council after going to the cemetery to visit the grave of her parents.
“What a disgrace!” Wyatt wrote, “the weeds were taller than us, there are blackjacks, bugweed, wattle and every other weed imaginable. There is even a very healthy dagga plant, about two metres tall.”
She said the headstones were hardly visible and that the once clean and tidy cemetery had been left to deteriorate to such an extent that it would take months to try to get it back to its former condition.
She added that there was a municipal vehicle parked near the old stone chapel building.
“On investigation, we found somebody nearby, soldering what appeared to be a transformer.
“When we asked who was in charge, he said he was — but only to direct people to where they could find the particular grave they were visiting.”
On further inquiry, Wyatt found the names of the officials in charge of the cemetery and she questioned when last they had inspected the cemetery.
“How would you like it if your parents’ final resting place was left in such a disgraceful state?” Wyatt asked.
She said that sending a team of brush-cutters once every six months would not solve the problem.
“There should be a full-time labourer, properly supervised, to tend to the graves on a daily basis and keep the grass cut and weeds destroyed. That certainly would not break the budget,” Wyatt added.
Ngubane, who joined the municipality in October last year, apologised for the state of the cemetery and said part of the problem was that the municipality had been caught up in a financial crisis. He assured residents that the cemetery would be cleaned up.

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