15 July 2017 Read: 700
Twenty one unclaimed corpses were buried in the Modjadjiskloof cemetery yesterday (Thursday) morning. Some of the remains lay unclaimed at the Letaba Forensic Pathology’s morgue in Ga-Kgapane since early 2009.
Of the 21 unidentified bodies, 13 were male – one of which was estimated to have been around 57 years of age. The other seven were too far decomposed to distinguish gender. The bodies were transported to the Modjadjiskloof cemetery by National Legal Aid Funeral Services after they were approached by Letaba Forensics for assistance.
Modjadjiskloof municipality donated seven graves for the burial. In accordance with common practice in regards to pauper burials, the bodies were placed three atop of each other, into each of the seven graves. A short burial sermon and prayer was given.
News of the burial came as a shock to Modjadjiskloof residence who are still boiling under the collar following last week’s GLM sanctioned meeting at the badminton hall. The purpose of the meeting was for the GLM to engage in discussion with the Modjadjiskloof residents on the topic of including Kgapane burials at their local cemetery. The municipality justified their decision by saying that the Kgapane cemetery was full and that Modjadjiskloof would act as a temporary interim solution.
The residents were furious. They were not consulted in a public participation hearing, nor were they afforded the opportunity to raise their objections. During the meeting the DA councillor was again silenced when he raised concerns over space issues and the number of funerals the GLM were planning for.
“Apparently the GLM had known that the Kgapane cemetery was reaching its capacity back in 2014, but had for some reason waited until it turned into a crisis before reacting,” said Frederick Pohl, DA councillor in Modjadjiskloof. “When I asked the municipality how many burials we should expect in a month, their answer was that they did not know how many would die. How ridiculous is that for an answer?”
It seems that the meeting was meant as a pacifier to the community.
“We did not need to consult the community on this issue. The meeting was merely to inform the residence of what was going to happen,” said Lovers Maenetje, spokesperson for the GLM. “As for rumours that a service provider had been appointed prior to the meeting; those allegations are not true. What service would someone be providing in this instance?”
A source told Bulletin that it is likely that the burial of the 21 paupers had been discussed behind closed doors a few weeks earlier, and that the community meeting last week was merely a way to cover their tracks in legal paperwork as they failed to follow protocol which includes public participation.
We sent an official enquiry to Maenetje to gain clarity from the GLM last week. At the time of going to print we had still not received any response.