Relatives shattered by acts of vandalism at PE facility
Vandals targeting the Victoria Park Crematorium have left relatives of those whose cremated remains are stored at the facility horrified by the prospect of losing their loved ones twice in one lifetime.
The storage units containing urns with ashes have been targeted by vandals.
When Weekend Post visited the crematorium this week, the broken remains of several plaques – bearing the names and dates of birth and death of the deceased – were scattered in and around the units.
The premises were generally clean, but bottles and chips packets could be seen in some open units.
And while management says vandalism at the 63-year-old South End crematorium is nothing new, that has done little to calm nervous relatives who say it is just a matter of time before ashes are stolen.
Among those concerned are Peter and Michele Adams, who noticed the vandalism during their annual visit from Cape Town earlier this week.
They were paying their respects to Peter’s mother, Joyce, who died in 1991, and his nephew Craig Middleton, who died in 2002.
“We were absolutely horrified by the state of the plaques,” Michelle said.
“We only visit the crematorium once a year.
What if we return one year and the ashes are gone? We already lost our family due to tragic circumstances.
To lose them for a second time and this time after death would be too much for us.
“Some of these ashes are stored with valuables in them, but I’m sure that has been stopped because of the vandalism. I can’t imagine what type of person would deface a burial or storage site. It must be some type of satanic practice.”
Victoria Park Crematorium manager Riedewaan Salie, of Independent Crematoriums South Africa, said despite the increasing popularity of cremation – with about 10 cremation requests daily – the situation regarding security was still bleak.
“Vandalism is a problem we have been faced with for years. There have been numerous examples where people have broken plaques, but ashes have never been stolen.
“I am not sure why anyone would disrespect the dead in such a way. I can only assume it is some sort of satanic thing. We have tried to secure the premises.
We put in security lights, which were stolen. We chained our gas tanks because they too were previously stolen,” he said.
“But there is not much else we can do as these vandals come on a Sunday or at night when we are not here. We simply can’t afford a security guard on the premises 24/7; that would cost thousands.
“There was also some structural damage on the perimeter walls as a result of the vibration from planes landing nearby, but we fixed that.
We are doing all we can to ensure the remains of loved ones are protected and secured in a dignified manner.”
Walmer resident Andrea Niell said the plaque for her son – Matthew who died in 2004 – had been broken early last year.
“When I arrived at his plaque, I found it in three pieces on the floor.
I just broke down in tears.
I couldn’t believe that someone could be that evil. I am just grateful his ashes w e re n ’t stolen,” Niell said.
One of the four South End c re m a – torium employees, who asked not to be named, said: “Last year we had an incident where someone spraypainted satanic symbols on the boundary wall.
We painted over them, but it just shows the type of people we are dealing with.”