SIMON MUNTEMBA writesSOME Lusaka residents have built houses on top of graves at Chingwere Cemetery, a situation that has shocked the local city council authorities.
A Sun team that visited the area, found some houses have been built right in the middle of the graveyard where tombstones have been removed to pave way for houses.
Part of the graveyard has seemingly been turned into a sprawling residential area on the periphery of Matero Township. The Sun crew that went to check found some tombstones upturned and houses build on top of clearly marked graves.
Lusaka City Council (LCC) officials who were found at the graveyard assessing the extent of damage caused by the heavy rains also expressed shock at the development.
When asked why the local authority had allowed illegal land developers to encroach and build houses in graveyard, LCC public relations manager George Sichimba declined to comment. Mr Sichimba who was seemingly saddened by the encroachment on graveyard was reluctant to comment.
“Sorry, I can’t make any comment for now but it’s really a sad development,” said Mr Sichimba who was flacked by LCC public health director Edgar Mulwanda.
Further asked whether the council had plans to carry out the demolition exercise or institute investigations into how people acquired the land in question, Mr Sichimba refused to comment. Meanwhile, one woman, a landlord near the houses built on graves, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation blames the encroachment on the cemetery on indiscriminate allocation of land by political party cadres during the MMD regime. She said suspected MMD cadres had gone on rampage illegally allocating themselves part of graveyard. She said the suspected cadres had their eyes on graveyards where they either construct their own houses or sold to unsuspecting individuals. “Ife tiyopa kukamba ndaba ngati batimvela pa news bangatibwelele ati tachita mulomo. But iyi nkhani yama plot siyalelo. Yanapasiwa nthawi yaba MMD. Ni ma cadres yenzo pasa ma plot aya,” she said. And one elderly man identified as John Sinkala said it was sad that some unscrupulous people were displacing the dead from their graves at a time LCC was grappling to find burial sites for departed souls. “It appeared as though that the illegal construction of these houses were after an afterthought as the area is connected to the national grid.
“I am sure some big fish were involved because I don’t think ZESCO can supply electricity to these houses when they know the plots are illegal. Surely, how does ZESCO even connect power to houses illegally built on graves?” Mr Sinkala wondered.