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Tue Jul 26 08:31:36 SAST 2016

Tshwane metro challenges DA to prove destruction of 600 graves in Pretoria East

Sipho Masombuka | 10 February, 2016 16:36

Image by: CRV Media via YouTube

Tshwane metropolitan municipality has berated Democratic Alliance's Lex Middelberg for “callously” stirring up emotions to “score cheap political points” by claiming that the metro has desecrated 600 graves in Pretoria East Cemetery.

Middelberg claimed in a statement released on Wednesday afternoon that the city's workers obliterated graves‚ damaged a number of tombstones and destroyed or removed some tombstones and shrines built and maintained by grieving city residents.

“In addition numerous markers of graves that had not yet had a tombstone erected were simply scraped away‚ leaving numerous graves totally unmarked‚” he said.

Middelberg said the DA had since opened a criminal case against the municipality for “grotesquely bulldozing the grave sites using heavy construction equipment to flatten the ground over the graves...”

But spokesperson for the municipality‚ Selby Bokaba‚ said he had personally gone to the grave site and not a single grave had been destroyed.

He explained that grave site valuables such as crosses and other material used to mark the graves had been removed and stored in the cemetery store room to make way for the installation of irrigation pipes and laying of lawn to beautify the cemetery.

Bokaba said this had been standard practice for years as the graveyard expanded and these materials would be returned to individual graves when the work was completed.

He said the materials had been removed to protect them from being damaged during the installation of the irrigation system and that a notice had been put up at the entrance of the cemetery.

“I challenge DA to prove their claim and show us one grave that has been destroyed. We understand it is an election season but using something sacrosanct as graves and shrines to garner votes borders on insanity‚” he said.

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