CATTLE grazing in the Forest Hill Cemetery have angered mourners visiting graves who say they often have to clean dung from the final resting places of their loved ones.
Last week a mother mourning her son could no longer take it and saw to it that four cattle, grazing on the graves and causing damage rubbing up against tombstones, were impounded by the municipality’s animal control department
“Livestock are violating my son’s resting place and I am deeply hurt that the municipality allow this to happen,” said Jacki Serfontein who lost her son Divan, 14, in December last year.
“The worst is having to clean up dung from his grave every time we visit,” said Serfontein who was struggling to come to grips with her son’s death.
“This is the place where I have laid one of my most precious gifts to rest and I should not have to clean cow poop from it.”
She said the cattle were allegedly being herded through an opening in the gate on the one side of the cemetery.
Another visitor to the cemetery, Marlene de Jager said the situation was completely out of hand and they had to clean all sorts of rubbish from her mother-in-law’s grave.
“The cattle rub along the tombstones and often bump them over,” said De Jager. “We now spend every Sunday cleaning her grave instead of spending time with our loved one. It makes one really angry as we pay for the privilege to have her laid to rest there.
“It really has become a huge problem that needs to be dealt with urgently”.
She noted it was not just cattle making a nuisance of themselves but people who came there to drink and leave empty bottles on graves.
Jeanette Basson has four loved ones buried there and finds it is very depressing to go to the graves as she never knows what to expect.
“It is a nightmare, the cows eat everything, knock tombstones over and nothing gets done,” said Basson.
“We have complained on numerous occasions but get told there is no budget to erect a fence or cut the grass. I was in tears when I visited my husband and the father of my daughter’s grave on his birthday.”
Basson said a cow charged her when she tried to chase it off the grave.
Municipal spokesman Kupido Baron said : “Our staff is aware that no cattle are allowed in our cemeteries and they know how to deal with it. On the day in question the animals were impounded. I must also add that the handling of animals create an additional problem, since some of the animals can be aggressive and as a result pose a risk to our staff.”
He said fencing was a problem “due to the shameful vandalism and theft” and it was estimated R44-million was needed for a long-term solution.
“We urge residents to report the culprits to the municipality as well as the South African Police Services. We note with concern that anti-social behaviour at our graveyards including drinking, prostitution and other illegal activities are on the increase.”