The desecration of the Mowbray maqbara (cemetery) in Cape Town that was discovered early on Wednesday morning has highlighted concerns around vandalism and the safety of cemeteries in the city. According to local government, vandalism and theft are the biggest challenges cemeteries face throughout the city.
Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health at the City of Cape Town, Zahid Badroodien says that cemetery spaces are no longer given the respect and dignity they deserve.
“The city has about 40 cemeteries across the metro…[and] one of the biggest challenges we find is the issue of vandalism,” he said.
“The reality on our grounds is that cemetery spaces are no longer spaces given the respect they deserve…”
Badroodien continued, explaining that even fences at these resting sites are stolen. He indicated that the City continually debates when they should stop replacing fencing “that is stolen over and over again”.
The City of Cape Town is looking at several methods to reduce crime at cemeteries.
These include increasing lighting and adding CCTV monitoring, among others.
“A new concept we’re piloting in some facilities is to consider whether it is possible to place law enforcement hubs at these centres that will be able to establish a 24-hour presence in addition to the security guards that are being placed at the various facilities,” said Badroodien.
Badroodien lamented the vandalism at these resting sites and explained that often when and where new resources are introduced, shortly thereafter they are either stolen or vandalised.