Molepolole’s Ga Ranta cemetery in bad state

Molepolole's Ga Ranta cemetery in bad state
Molepolole's Ga Ranta cemetery in bad state

Africa-Press – Botswana. Residents of Molepolole are distraught by collapsing graves at the Ga Ranta burial grounds, which is one of the biggest cemeteries in the village. The cemetery, which is widely used by Bakwena for burial of loved ones, is in a sorry state as The Monitor can attest.

Some graves have collapsed and even new ones are showing signs they would soon cave in. The fence for the burial site is old while some collapsed graves are covered with small trees so that no one could not see the inside of the grave and some tombstones have fallen. Village Development Committee (VDC) chairperson for Boribamo West, Maria Toise admits that the graves are collapsing. “They are caving in, and some birds or small animals make their way in by digging a hole in the grave,” she says. “The fence at the cemetery is old, therefore goats and cows also make their way through and do contribute to making the situation worse. If this situation is not addressed, we will find some coffins exposed one day.” Toise is also given sleepless nights by failure of some family members of the bereaved to take care of the graves of their loved ones after burial. “Jaaka hela le bona mabitla a mangwe a masha mme ga a tsaya nako go wela. Go nale merafe e mengwe e senkeng e tlhola gore go diragalang ka mabitla a batho ba bone.

A mangwe ga re itse gore go epile diphologolo kana jang. A mangwe mabitla ekare ne go tabolwa mebu ya teng. Tota re tshwenyegile ka go wela ga mabitla a.” Toise explains the VDC has engaged Ipelegeng workers to try clean and cover the graves that are in bad state.

The gesture was to avoid members of the public to get traumatised by what they see at cemeteries. The VDC chairperson is worried that shades that covered some graves were being stolen and sold for reuse. “Failure by some families to take care of the graves for their family members makes it difficult for us to report the issues to the police,” Toise says. “The reason why Dikgosi have created a committee for cemeteries or mabitla is simply because of collapsing of graves and failure by family members to take care of their graves.

It is our responsibility as family members to ensure that graves for our loved ones are intact.” The state of Ga Ranta cemetery worries residents like Kegope Malebang who stays adjacent to the graveyard. Malebang says the problem with the cemetery is that it has never had a strong fence and some people have not made it a habit of visiting or cleaning the graves of departed family members. “Ba bangwe ba dumela gore ntlaabo ekare motho o obamela mmele wa moswi. Kgang tse di thata. There is a need for people to be educated on that or the council should be given responsibilities of cemeteries so that we pay for graves,” says Malebang.

“That is the only way and it will keep the cemeteries clean just like in towns.

I think the problem is the soil because the area is sandy.

The soil in this area is not good at all and that is why some houses do crack.” Kgosi Basonoko Phuthegelo of Goo Mogotsi says their committee was disturbed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but they are aware of what is happening in some cemeteries. “We are yet to compile a report to dikgosi so that resolutions could be made regarding some cemeteries. This will have to involve the tribe and I hope they will call a kgotla meeting after the report has been presented to them,” he says. “We have found out that the reason why some graves, not all though, are collapsing is that some are not compacted properly during burial hence the collapse,” explains Phuthegelo, who is also a member of the cemetery committee. “Proper procedures must be followed during burial to avoid such unfortunate situations.

Again family members do clean graves for their family members and they are the only ones to tell if there is damage to the tombstone or not.” He says at kgotla meetings, it is only members of the tribe who can advise dikgosi on what could be done regarding cemeteries and the role they will play as individuals or families. Phuthegelo adds it is time for the community also to play a role in addressing issues in the village.

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