Komani businesses have come together to assist a group which initiated the cleaning of the Queenstown cemetery by pledging to pay casual workers and sponsoring equipment or refreshments.
This support and working together of the community came after a group of women were seen cleaning the cemetery near Hangklip High School two weeks ago, on the initiative of local businessman Shane Meyer.
Meyer indicated that after he saw the unkempt cemetery where the weeds were bigger each time he passed by, he decided to invite people to help him clean it via Facebook and received a good response from the public.
“The municipality is doing nothing to clean the cemeteries in this town and I decided to take it upon myself to do something about it. It is our people who lie there and if we depend on an institution that is not willing to do what is supposed to, it is us, the residents, who will suffer in the end.”
Meyer took unemployed youths from the streets and paid them for the work done on the day and said he would bring them tea and lunch. He said all the companies who had pledged to pay workers would have to give the money to them directly and not to him as he did not want to handle any money meant to pay people.
Deshan and Zayni Pillay of Deslay Transport offered to pay for the second day of work, and the third day would be paid by Sinesh Pillay of NS Pillay. The Queen’s College tuckshop offered to sponsor the workers to lunch, Twizza with water and cool drinks while Superclean and Coastal Hire offered their equipment to anyone who wanted to work towards keeping Komani clean, provided they brought it back in good working condition.
Resident Adre Bartis who responded to the call for assistance by Meyer said when they arrived at the cemetery, there were families who could not access their loved ones’ graves due to the grass and weeds that had covered them and the surrounding area.
“We cleaned 38 graves which is a drop in the ocean because the site is big and needs more people to come on board. We will put up a Facebook post again calling for people to assist this Sunday because some claimed they did not have garden equipment. With all the companies coming together to assist in this important cause, everyone who comes to lend a hand will have utensils to work with.”
Bartis said the Komani community was tired of waiting for the municipality to do things for them and had taken the initiative to do something about their complaints and grievances.
“We hope to also reach the cemeteries in Mlungisi and other areas if this initiative grows and more businesses and people offer their assistance.
“We invite all those who are interested in helping to join us again this Sunday at 2pm. The plan is that we will run this from 2 to 4pm every Sunday until the cemetery is completely cleaned and we move on to another one.”
Bartis said this initiative started as a way to clean up a cemetery, but has also turned out be a form of job creation for people looking for casual work in Komani.
Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality spokesman Gcobani Msindwana said the municipality had a compliment of 14 Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) staff that cleaned cemeteries, gutters, around the CBD and the Bonkolo Dam on a rotational basis.
“In March a team cleaned the Komani cemetery as part of our plan but due to persistent rainy weather at the time, it contributed to the weed that had since grew [sic]. Our plan is to start cleaning again from Monday next week to the 24th. We will use weed killer to minimise the quick re-emergence of the weed in our cemeteries.”
Msindwana said the local authority also wanted to work with communities when they had programmes to clean and assist the municipality.
“We would appreciate it if they approached us so that we could collect what was removed. We also acknowledge it is our responsibility as a municipality to clean cemeteries, but any help from our communities is welcome.”