Bongani Ndlovu, Online Reporter
There is scramble for burial space at Luveve Cemetery in Bulawayo after an excavator used to dig graves at Athlone Cemetery broke down last week.
The machine replaced manual labour years ago to expedite the process of burying people at the cemeteries dotted around Bulawayo.
It broke down last week and bereaved families had to take their loved ones to Luveve Cemetery for burials, since Friday.
On Saturday, funeral parlours said there were about 26 burials that were not held at Athlone Cemetery because there were no graves and they had to be moved to Luveve where burial space ran out.
On Tuesday morning, Athlone Cemetery had hundreds of people congregated as families tried to bury their loved ones.
“When we do burials, the graves are booked prior and they are supposed to go to either Luveve or Athlone as normal. However, because of this all burials on Saturday were not held at Athlone. We were told to take all the burials to Luveve. Thereafter when we got there after some burials, grave space ran out. When we left Luveve at around 3pm, Council phoned and told us to suspend all burials until they remedy the situation,” said a funeral parlour employee who spoke in condition of anonymity.
“So, on Sunday there were no burials. What they were now doing was that those who complained at their offices were being given graves at West Park. Although it’s closed but I think there are graves that were dug.”
Some funeral parlours are said to have offered to hire an excavator to dig graves but council refused.
Another funeral parlour said bodies are piling up in mortuaries.
“The problem we have now is that the bodies are piling up in our mortuaries because of the number of people who are dying. We don’t know when their machine will be fixed. They are limiting the number of people who can be buried saying that they want to open up gradually,” said another funeral parlour operator.
The Covid-19 pandemic that is ravaging Zimbabwe has caused a surge in deaths.