Thursday, July 8, 2010

Graveyard flats an 'injustice'

2010-07-08 07:53

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Cape Town - The development of an upmarket apartment complex on part of a graveyard in Gordon's Bay had been a "terrible injustice", Cape Town mayor Dan Plato said on Wednesday.

He said an investigation commissioned by the City of Cape Town had found that there had been inadequate communication with the community the graves belonged to, and that the law had been broken when the graveyard was cleared.

"I would like to sincerely apologise to all the families who were affected and assure them that we are aware of the pain that has been caused.

"We acknowledge that the City acted wrongly in the past and we have learned from the inexcusable mistakes of previous administrations," he said.

The City last year commissioned an external investigation into the development of Ocean Quays apartments, part of a project named Harbour Island.

The probe was launched following complaints from members of the community.

No precautions taken

Plato said it was found that the sentiments of families of people who had been buried on the site - who were all coloured - were not considered in the development process as no public participation processes were followed.

The sub-division of the original erf on which the graves stood, the rezoning, and the sale of the property to the developer had been done lawfully.

"However, the local government of the time did not in their advertising indicate specifically that the erf to be sold and rezoned formed part of a cemetery.

"By only advertising the erven numbers, the community had no way of knowing that it would involve the sub-division of a cemetery, and could therefore not object accordingly."

The upgrading of the portion of the cemetery was done in accordance with the by-laws of that time. However, the general requirement of a public participation process and its spirit of meaningful engagement was by-passed and the community was not adequately involved.

In addition, no precautions were taken to ensure the "integrity" of the graves when the land was cleared in about 1992.

"Neither did the developers in 2004 comply with the provisions of the National Heritage Resource Act that required a permit and an archaeologist on site at the time of excavation," he said.

The City believed there were grounds for a criminal case to be opened with the police.

"The City will report the matter to the authorities who will assess the evidence and make a decision regarding a potential prosecution."

He urged members of the community to provide the City with names of relatives they believed were buried there, so a more complete list could be compiled as part of a memorialising process.


The Star

Comments by Sonny

Yes, and to think that part of Riverlea in Johannesburg was also built on a Chinese Graveyard?

Why is the government always so insensitive?

Or do they think that 'foreign' spirits will not communicate with local residents?

No wonder the Chinese are intent on tasking over Africa!

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