One of Zimbabwe’s biggest cemetery, Mbudzi is being run without computers making it hard for some people to locate the graves of their departed loved ones.
All records of deceased are being kept in books, which are by nature prone to tear and wear, fading of letters.
People visit the cemetery on death anniversaries while some visit the place in order to clean and maintain loved ones’ graves, but others are finding it hard because of obsolete manual records at the office.
Richmond Chakwe bemoaned the situation saying it is not good for a big cemetery like Mbudzi not to have computerised inventory system.
“I recently visited the place to clean my late uncle’s grave, Jack Mafuta who died in 2003, but we failed to locate it even with the help of groundsmen there.
“The office had no computers, and some of books had missing pages,” he said.
He added that most of the graves are in bad state covered by very long grass.
“At times the groundsmen resort to burning the grass so as to be able to clean around them.
“The problem with burning the grass is that the heat end up ruining the names written on head materials where there are no glazed tombstones,” he said.
His sentiments were echoed by Rejoice Benhura, who said the responsible government arms should make sure that record keeping at cemeteries are done in line with current trends.
She added that it is a same scenario with Warren Hills Cemetery where there are no computers, save for aged books.
“Records keeping at cemeteries should move with times. Those offices should be computerised to make searches easy.
“With computers information about the deceased will be at finger tips,” she said.
Meanwhile, an official at Mbudzi Cemetery who declined to be named confirmed the situation, saying it was true that they don’t have computers.
To further confirm the situation this publication accompanied one source to Mbudzi Cemetery offices who asked details for her deceased relative. It took time to get the information, let alone to locate the grave on the ground as the metal plate with the deceased’s name was rubbed off probably by a fire.
Graves fall under Cemeteries Act Chapter 5:04 promulgated to facilitate the establishment of public cemeteries and to provide for the management thereof; and to provide for the establishment, maintenance and taking over by local authorities of cemeteries, for the closing of cemeteries and for other matters incidental thereto.
This under the Ministry of Local Government.
Meanwhile, when any person desires to erect and place any monument or tombstone in any part of any cemetery he shall, before permission is given, submit a plan of the monument or tombstone proposed to be erected and placed to the trustees of the cemetery, who may withhold their permission and prevent the erection of any monument which appears to them to be inappropriate or unbecoming.
According to the Constitution, upkeep and closure of cemeteries, and removal of human remains is taken by the local authority in whose jurisdiction the Cemetery is.
On upkeep and closure of Cemeteries section one (1) reads:
It shall be lawful for a local authority—
at the request of a religious denomination or the owners interested in any closed cemetery within the area of such local authority, to undertake the upkeep of such cemetery;
subject to the conditions mentioned in subsection (2), to take over and maintain in such manner and put to such uses as are approved by the Minister, being uses which will not desecrate the ground or any memorials or monuments therein, any cemetery within the area of such local authority which has been closed.