News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Saturday February 24th 2018

Second Philippi grave discovered after first one sparks protests

Sandiso Phaliso

The discovery of a grave in Philippi’s Emangcwabeni informal settlement by City of Cape Town workers installing electricity, caused outrage and shock in the community last month.

The resultant halting of the electricity rollout sparked protests on Wednesday and Thursday last week.

Police had to fire rubber bullets to disperse crowds of up to 100 youth who burnt tyres and dug up New Eisleben Road.

Now a second grave has been discovered, leading to “fear and misery” amongst the approximately 200 residents, said the man who discovered the second grave on Wednesday (17/06/2009) Vuyani Ndamase, 40.

The settlement is situated on part of a former graveyard but it was believed the owner of the land, the iThemba laBantu Lutheran Church, had exhumed all the old graves.

Ndamase said he was busy extending his shack when he discovered the top of a grave beneath the sand a metre from his doorsteps.

Residents tried to dig up the concrete covering but found it extended into neighbour Ayanda Nyameni’s shack.

The discovery has strengthened the residents resolve to resume protesting over the fact that they are living above un-exhumed graves, and that the rollout of electricity has been halted.

City spokesperson Charles Cooper said the church had applied to the South African Heritage Resources Agency (Sahra) for permission to exhume the graves.

Cooper directed all further enquiries to the landowners, iThemba Labantu Lutheran Church.

Sahra spokesperson Solayman Ebrahim said they were waiting for an archaeologist’s report before granting the application to remove the first grave.

“Definitely we will give the permit,” said Ebrahim, we are waiting for the application and once we have it then we can start with our processes.”

Church pastor Arthur Becker said he was shocked to hear that a second grave had been discovered.

Regarding the first grave he said: “I left matter in the hands of the police and they never got back to me and there is nothing I can do. I thought it was removed a long time ago.”

Ndamase said he found it difficult to sleep knowing there was a “dead person” on his doorstep.

“I did not know about the grave until when I was trying to extend my shack. If they don’t remove the graves in the area we will protest until they hear out plight or remove it ourselves,” said Ndamase.

Ndamase and his neighbours said they suspected there were more graves in the area.

“This place was a grave site before we came here and the discovery of the second grave proves that there are many graves underneath us,” said Ndamase.

When ward councillor Bongani Mini arrived on the scene on Thursday, surrounded by police and city officials, residents refused to show him the second grave, saying they would only do so after he had done something about the first one. – West Cape News

Tags: philippi

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