GWERU – Mtapa, the most sought after Cemetery in Gweru has closed for new burials because it is full, a statement released by the local municipality has said.
The 12 hectare cemetery which is a stone throw away from the City centre is not taking any new burials except for those whose graves have been bought in advance.
In a notice, the new Town Clerk Elizabeth Gwatipedza said residents should now use Mkoba, Senga and the Central Mtasa cemeteries for burials.
"Mtapa Cemetery is closed for burials except only for those who have reserved their graves. You are therefore advised to use Mkoba,
Senga and the Central Mtasa Cemeteries for burials," said the statement.
Officials at the council said that Mtapa was officially closed in 2008 but because of huge demand for graves, the local authority started closing roads and paths that ran through the cemetry and dug out new graves. In fact any remaining space was turned into a grave thereby distorting the original plan of the graveyard.
There are now 16 185 children and adults buried there. The Cemetery is the best in Gweru and one of the most well looked after in the whole country with well spruced grounds and trees although the fence has fallen in many places.
Former Gweru Town Clerk Godfrey Nhemachena decribed the closure as a good move.
" l know many people want to be buried at Mtapa but as a former administrator l think a good decision was made to close the cemetery because it has been oversubscribed," said Nhemachena.
Former Gweru Mayor Tedious Chimombe also said that the closure of Mtapa was necessary as council has converted roads into grave spaces.
"A lot of memories lie at that cemetery and it is the biggest in town but roads were now being converted into graves and people could not walk freely through the graveyard so its a good idea," said Chimombe.
A grave at Mtapa was going for $34.50 for adults during the week and $69 during the weekends. For children a grave was going for $17.25 during the week and $34.50 over the weekends.
The Director of Housing and Community Services Tigere said there are 1 654 graves that have been bought in advance and these are mainly by families or spouses who want to be buried close to their loved ones.
The Mirror is however, reliably informed that there are those who have secured many graves at Mtapa and these are selling them at higher prices to those desperate to secure graves at Mtapa.
Several people spoke on the coming down of the final curtain on the place that holds bitter and fond memories. This is the place where those who only yesterday were full of cheer and life, lie still, lifeless, buried and gone forever.
Some prominent people whose final resting place is Mtapa are Former Deputy Mayor Artwell Matyorauta and Manikidza Nyoni former Mayor.
There are whole families that are buried at Mtapa.
Mtapa Cemetery was established in 1892 and before independence it was a burial place for the whites only. It also has a section for Moslems.
The Cemetery was opened to all citizens after independence and the first black man to be buried at Mtapa was buried on April, 2, 1982.local news