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Walvis Bay contemplates closing old cemetery

Written by on June 12, 2024

Walvis Bay councillors are debating the issue of closing the unused cemetery situated in the town’s industrial area.

The cemetery was opened in the early 1960’s during the planning of the current town hall and civic centre.

Remains at the old location cemetery were exhumed and moved to the site close to the fishing factories.

Councillor Ronald Bramwell submitted a motion at Thursday’s council meeting, suggesting the site be used for industrial development, as it is no longer in use and is situated on prime ground.

“My proposal to council is to obtain a register and list all the names of citizens of Walvis Bay who were interred there, exhume all the remains which are still in the ground, bury them in a single grave in the present cemetery, remove all surviving tombstones and place them in a line against the wall to the right of the entrance of the cemetery,” he said.

He said the intention of this motion is for the preservation of history and what is still left of the remains.

“The remains were reburied in unmarked graves. The then-existing gravestones were moved,” Bramwell said.

He said the unmarked graves have fallen into disrepair, with the wind leaving some of the graves exposed.

“It has been observed that dogs are chewing on human skeletal remains there. Some children were even found to be playing with skulls of people long dead,” he said.

UNDECIDED … Walvis Bay councillors are un- decided on whether to use an old cemetery at the town for industrial development. Family members of those bur- ried there, like Martha Herman whose grand- mother was buried at the cemetery, say the issue is sensitive. Photo: Taati Niilenge

While the motion was seconded by Leroy Victor, it was opposed by Ryan Gordon.

“Do we know how much money it will cost the municipality and how much pain we will bring to some people?” Gordon asks.

“In a previous motion, councillor Bramwell wanted to save money for our town and in this motion he wants to spend money for other people to get what they want,” Gordon says.

He says the issue should have been discussed with the community.

Other councillors, including Albertina Nkoshi, Paulus Kauhondamua, Olivia Andrews, Ephraim Shozi and Richard Hoaeb, say the matter needs community consultations.

Most suggested that the area be turned into a heritage site, as the remains belong to people with different cultures and races and that a mass grave would not be acceptable.

Questions were also raised as to whether the council has the power to execute such actions, or if that power lies elsewhere.

Other opinions were that the motion was tabled at a time where Walvis Bay is already faced with various urgent matters.

Walvis Bay resident Martha Herman, whose grandmother, Martha Hipondoka, was buried at the site, said her family might be open to the removal of the grave, but they are not in agreement with a mass grave.

The post Walvis Bay contemplates closing old cemetery appeared first on The Namibian.

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