Windhoek residents who have relatives buried at municipal cemeteries in Katutura and Khomasdal say the final resting places of their loved ones are neglected.
To add insult to injury, people have resorted to relieving themselves in the graveyards.
Tombstones are likewise desecrated,
and infrastructure damaged.
New Era visited the graveyards, and found that the cemeteries where most of the lower-income residents bury their dead at Golgota, Oponganda and Khomasdal are
in a state of decay, compared to the Gammams graveyard in a former white neighbourhood, which seems to receive most of the attention from the municipality.
Dead trees litter the spaces, and water pipes are disconnected and broken.
Residents who stay near the Golgota cemetery told this reporter that they last saw contractors cleaning the area some five years ago.
The residents further claimed that passers-by often relieve themselves in the graveyard because it is bushy, and the guards are not able to spot them.
“Just try to walk around; you will see the human waste around. There is no proper care, and now that there is long grass, people are hiding there,” said a woman who opted to remain anonymous.
Another resident said the negligence of the place has made the work of the security guards very difficult in protecting the tombstones from thievery.
“Most of the tombstones are vandalised, and some are stolen. You cannot blame the two females who are patrolling there. At night, it is dark. During the day, it is bushy. What can they do?”
One of the security guards who refused to give her name for fear of losing her job explained that they don’t detect thieves because of the weeds and grass.
A resident of Khomasdal, Ronney Beukes, who spoke to New Era while cleaning his mother’s grave, registered his disappointment in the City of Windhoek. “The municipality has failed to clean the house of the dead.
It has been years now that I come here to clean. I have four relatives who are buried here: my two sisters, a brother and my mother. My heart bleeds when I see their graves covered with long grass like this. Hence, I will clean their graves to look much better,” he said.
He thus urged those with their relatives buried at Khomasdal to clean their loved ones’ graves.
At Oponganda, New Era found the cleaning contractor at work. However, the largest portion of the gravesite is covered with long grass.
The contractor, who refused to share information about himself, said they have just started with the job, and they are hoping to cover the biggest portion soon.
He said his company was only allocated that cemetery to clean.
When New Era reached the Gammams cemetery in Pionierspark, sources who stay nearby said the contractor who had been on site since last year left in February.
“The contractor only left a few months ago when the rainy season began. We do not know whether the contract had ended or not, but they left,” said one of the guards, who also shied away from giving information, fearing for her job.
Good rains to blame
Contacted for comment, City of Windhoek spokesperson Harold Akwenye confirmed there are no contractors on site at various graveyards at the moment due to the good rains the country has received.
“It was a good rainy season this year, and as observed, the grass in Windhoek is visible all over. Furthermore, the bid for weeding city streets is currently being evaluated. This is done once-off due to budgetary constraints. However, the park’s divisions are weeding roads with high traffic flow volumes and junctions around the city,” he explained.
He added that the sprouting of the grass is vigorous, and without contractors, it worsens the situation.
Akwenye said the city has approved Daan Louw Motors to clean the A section at Gammams. There have also been other contractors who maintained and cleaned the cemetery for the past two years, but that contract lapsed in 2020.
“Therefore, the new ones are to be awarded, as per the explanation provided above. It will be great to do a follow-up once you pass by the cemeteries around June. It is expected that by then, the work will be in full swing as the appointed contractors will already be on board,” he continued.
Windhoek mayor Job Amupanda said he is not aware of the matter as he is busy with departmental familiarisation visits. But once he gets to that department, he will give it a priority.