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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Epworth residents call for action against grave barons

Story by Peter Chivhima

Epworth residents in Harare have raised the red flag over a disturbing situation that has seen graves sprouting in the high-density suburb with some encroaching into residential areas and roads.

Nothing is as disturbing as the sight of narrow graves at undesignated places.

This is the obtaining situation in Epworth, Harare where burials are done haphazardly with some graves encroaching into residential areas and roads.

Investigations by the ZBC News this Tuesday revealed that burials are conducted during odd hours, with grave barons pocketing rich pickings for facilitating quick interments at an affordable price.

“We are worried about what is happening here in Epworth because people are being buried around 8PM or midnight. During odd hours, you hear and see pushcarts ferrying dead bodies for burial. We fail to understand what is happening because it’s not normal for a person to be buried during that time, hence most of these graves are sprouting close to our homes and roads,” said a concerned Epworth resident.

Another resident said, “We are not happy with what is happening and we now live in fear because graves continue to move closer to our homes. We suspect that grave barons are behind this because at times, we wake up seeing graves near our home. We also suspect that some people from as far as Chitungwiza are coming to be buried here.”

The prevailing situation is even more disturbing for the elderly.

“When we were growing up, we never experienced such things, to see people being buried near the roads or closer to homes. We were forbidden to visit our parents at funerals but today things are different,” said an elderly resident.

Another said, “I have told my family that I don’t want to be buried here in Harare, especially near the road. Yes, I prefer a place which is decent rather than here.”

The local authority claims to have tried in vain to crack down on these illegal activities.

“From what we have gathered, people are burying their relatives during the night but it is difficult to arrest the culprits due to the nature of the criminal syndicates. But we have since engaged the government to assist with decent places for burials,” said Epworth Local Board chief executive officer, Dr Wilton Mhanda.

It is taboo in African culture for the dead to be buried under such circumstances and in the cover of darkness.

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