BULAWAYO – The City of Bulawayo says metal grave markers are being phased out because they are susceptible to theft and rust which erases names of people buried in the graves.
The city says families are increasingly failing to locate the graves of their loved ones.
Now the local authority has drafted plans to replace the grave markers with engraved concrete.
The city’s health, housing and education committee, in a report to the council, said: “Over the years, the city used metal grave markers and it was noted that these were susceptible to weather elements, theft and in cases of fire became illegible.
“The vandalism and destruction of the markers made it difficult to identify graves especially those that had no monuments erected on them. Failure to identify graves caused distress to families when they visited the graves of their loved ones for varying reasons.
“To avert the challenge of destruction and vandalism of grave markers, the department had mooted the introduction of concrete markers which were deemed more durable and of no value to the grave vandals.”
The committee says the local authority should produce the new grave markers “which will be engraved with a grave number and installed on the grave soon after burial.”
Councillors have not said when the changeover will start.
The local authority says grave identification is important, especially for traditional families which value communication between the dead and the living. Even Christians perform rites at the graves of their departed, including prayers.
The city recently decommissioned one of its cemeteries, Athlone Cemetery, with burials now being conducted at the newly-commissioned Umvutsha Cemetery.
Some of the city`s cemeteries still in use are Luveve Extension, Athlone Avenue and Lady Stanley Avenue.