THE Bulawayo City Council has revived plans to set up an executive cemetery as part of efforts to boost its revenue base, it has emerged.
by NQOBILE BHEBHE
In 2014, the local authority, which is facing burial space challenges, unveiled an ambitious plan to set up a cemetery for the rich and famous, where only casket size graves would be offered.
According to the plan then, it would cost $500 to reserve a grave at the planned Athlone West Cemetery for the well-up, compared to less than $50 charged at other council cemeteries.
The $500 was for the first five years and thereafter, one pays 50% to reserve the grave for another five years.
The cemetery would have all facilities such as security lighting at night to befit its upmarket status.
Council said it would rake about $4,7 million through the sale of 8 256 graves at the proposed cemetery.
Deputy mayor Gift Banda raised the matter during a debate on burial space shortages.
“The Deputy Mayor was concerned about the three months’ burial space left at West Park Cemetery. He enquired whether council had taken any action on this,” the latest council minutes read.
“Council should provide an executive cemetery. This would assist in the collection of more.”
A council official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it would be immoral for council to raise money through death.
“It’s a known fact that council needs money to sustain service delivery, but to raise it (money) through special cemeteries is not proper. We should device prudent ways to raise revenue,” the offiical said.
In the last two years, residents of Trenance, Northlyn and Harrisvale suburbs were up in arms with a property developer who planned to establish a private cemetery in the area without their consent.
Council had approved Elizabeth Magadalane Dubois’ application to establish a private cemetery in the area, with a capacity of at least 100 000 graves.
The Dubois cemetery was meant to be an upmarket facility for the upper class with a single grave expected to cost