Thursday, June 20, 2019

My name on my tombstone 6

If you live in Kwa Zulu Natal it might be a good idea to check where your family's granite tombstone came from. Reports in the Durban area in recent years indicate that stolen tombstones are being used to make granite kitchen tops which are then re-sold to unsuspecting communities. Make sure you know the origins of the material used for your counter tops, especially granite.

Tampering with grave sites is a serious offence that carries a hefty fine and even a prison sentence. The KZN Cemeteries and Crematoria Act requires one to seek permission from the MEC for Local Government to formally exhume a grave site. The department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) in KwaZulu-Natal is the custodian of grave sites in the province and should be consulted if there is a need to formally exhume a grave site.

It is disturbing to hear of criminals who do not respect grave sites desecrating them by stealing tombstones placed there by relatives to remember their loved ones.

This type of vandalism in graveyards has been going on for some time and perpetrators are seldom caught. 

Prince Imperial's Memorial Vandalised

In July 2012 it was reported that the memorial to the Prince Imperial, near Nqutu in the Dundee district, had been the target of vandals for the second time in six months. The marble cross marking the site was destroyed and the supporting structure seriously damaged. This served no purpose: the site is a memorial – there are no human remains buried there and nothing of value is hidden below the surface.

The incident at the Prince Imperial memorial site followed hard upon the heels of the desecration of the Intombi Military Cemetery near Ladysmith, earlier in the year. A grave was dug up, creating a hole 2m deep, and a headstone was damaged.

From the photograph taken at the site the headstone appears to be one of the distinctive Border Mounted Rifles’ memorials. I believe the headstone is that of William Dixon Smith, Lieutenant Quartermaster of the BMR, who died at Intombi in January 1900 – not a faceless soldier to me, but a real person, whose Siege letters I’ve read and whose life and family history I have researched in depth. The situation is deplorable no matter which grave has been disturbed.

Intombi Cemetery showing desecration of grave of Border Mounted Rifles 
Lieut QuarterMaster William Dixon Smith



A deeply unsettling but essential post, Mole. Thank you!

Mole said...

Thanks for your comment, Andrew.