Reports of people digging up human bones as they prepare fresh graves for burial at Chingwere Cemetery have raised concerns and anxieties among the residents and they have appealed to Lusaka City Council to find a new burial site.
Some Lusaka residents complained that the accidental digging up of human bones at various spots was evidence that the burial grounds were full and that residents were recycling burial sites.
Mr Rabson Msoni of Garden Township said it was horrifying to hear stories of people digging up human bones each time they went to bury their deceased relatives, and called on the Lusaka City Council (LCC) to move in quickly and address the situation.
“The fact that burial grounds are supposed to be respected places, and that graves should not be disturbed in any way, it is most unfortunate that we experience the horrifying scenes of dug up human bones at this cemetery,” he said.
Mr Msoni said the individuals given the responsibility of preparing graves were being exposed to the horrors of digging up coffins and bones as they dig fresh graves.
He said it was unfair to expose young men, who were usually tasked to prepare the graves to have such horrifying experiences.
“We are just calling on the council to attend to the problem of finding a new cemetery quickly to help protect the people from unnecessary anxiety. Grave diggers are being exposed to horrific experiences as they dig up coffins and bones of the dead people. The experience could be traumatizing and the Lusaka City Council should quickly find alternative burying place for the people in this community,” he said.
He explained that in fact, traditionally, graves should be the ultimate stop of any human being, and digging up the bones was seen as disturbing that person’s eternal rest.
And LCC public relations manager Habeenzu Mulunda said finding land for another cemetery had proved a challenge for the local authority as Lusaka had run out of empty space.
Mr Mulunda said several locations have in the past been suggested but that there were several facts to consider when allocating a piece of land for a cemetery.
“There is no land available in Lusaka, although we have come across several properties but we cannot just take up any piece of land that is available, because we need to have the land certified by the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) for contamination purposes.
There are several issues we need to consider first before land is made into a graveyard,” he said.
He explained that the local authority has since requested the Ministry of Lands to help them locate an appropriate place to turn into a new cemetery.
There have been reports that mourners at Lusaka’s Chingwere Cemetery have been digging up human bones from old graves in places assigned for burying their loved ones.