GEORGE NEWS - Georgians should be encouraged to choose cremation above the more traditional burial.
This was Councillor Aletti van Zyl's opinion at a meeting of the environmental affairs committee last week, where a report on the capacity of graveyards in George was tabled. Van Zyl was supported by both Parks Project Manager Mr Radie Laubscher and Councillor Alex Wildeman.
Laubscher said that land is expensive and the municipality has to make provision for ever more space to accommodate the remains of loved ones.
According to a report tabled at the meeting, several of the local graveyards are filled to capacity. The biggest one, in York Street, has a total capacity of 21ha of which 6ha is still available, which is sufficient for about 18 to 19 years. Laubscher said, however, that full capacity may be reached sooner if the demography of George and its growth are taken into account.
He said he was astonished at the total number of cremations - 80 per month - which comprises about half of the total number of disposals of human remains. "With all due respect, it saves Council a lot of money. The trend of erecting walls of remembrance by some churches is praiseworthy and something that more people should consider, although vandalism may be an issue."
The graveyards in Pacaltsdorp (2.6ha) and Rosemoor (5.6ha) and one of two in Thembalethu (1ha) are filled to capacity. The one in Blanco (1ha) is 95% full and Memorium Street's graveyard of 1.4ha is no longer in use.
In Thembalethu's remaining graveyard, 5.5ha of the total 7ha is still available.
In Touwsranten 0.8ha of the 1ha graveyard is still open.
Other areas that resort under the George Municipality are Lyonsville and Uniondale. Both will need more space for graves soon. Uniondale locals book their graves beforehand, and if this is taken into account, there is only 10% capacity left.
Wildeman was of the opinion that the Haarlem community needs help with the layout of their graveyard, "otherwise a lot of land can be wasted there".
No record keeping
The municipality's graveyard record keeping system is non-existent these days and members of the public who inquire about the location of their loved ones' graves, cannot be assisted. However, funds have been budgeted for a computerised system that uses GPS which will facilitate proper record keeping, according to Laubscher.
ARTICLE: ALIDA DE BEER, GEORGE HERALD JOURNALIST