Written by on August 16, 2019

THE issue of developers encroaching on land reserved for burying the departed loved ones has continued to make headlines in Zambia.

Desolately, the problem appears to have spread to every corner of Zambia in which some people have bizarrely thrown veneration for the dead to the air for their personal gain.

We fear that if government does not move in quickly, our graveyards will soon disappear much to the chagrin of those who have lost their beloved ones and are buried in these places.

What straightaway comes to our mind is the recent report about some unscrupulous Lusaka people who built houses in Old Leopard Hill, and Chingwere cemeteries which have not go well with Mayor Miles Sampa.

Speaking at the 8th ordinary council meeting held in council chambers lately, Mr Sampa was shocked that people constructing houses near the burial site were slowly encroaching on cemetery land.

Mr Sampa has since given up part of his salary to fence off Old Leopard’s Hill cemetery to stop these demonic encroachments.

In his own words Mr Sampa said: “It is very sad to see that some houses have been built close to the burial site at Old Leopards Hill cemetery, therefore I’ am taking it upon myself to fence the burial site because we need to separate the dead and the living and the dead should also be respected.”

It was the same story in Chipata, Eastern Province where some people started sharing land near Kaumbwe graveyard on Malawi Road while others helped themselves to land in the local M’chini cemetery. Totally disgusting!

Dilika Ward Councilor, Alberto Phiri said the same people have already started clearing the bush in the graveyard without authority from the council or himself.

Today we have a similar report from residents of Kabwe’ s Shakubila farm area in Munga ward appealing to their Member of Parliament Mr Sydney Mushanga to help them secure the burial land which a local man intends to buy.

The residents say the burial land earmarked for sale has been their only place where they have been burying their loved ones for over 40 years.

Speaking when Mr Mushanga held a development meeting in the area on Wednesday, the residents said they have since raised a petition to object the land application on farm number 783 where the graveyard is located.

Area councilor, Levy Chikungu says that the people of Sakubita have launched a petition on farm 783 and have started the process of planning and formalization through the ministry of lands for ownership title for the farm lands they occupied.

It is however comforting that Mr Mushanga has agreed with the community that farm 783 will continue to be a graveyard, cautioning that anyone who intends to buy the land should have respect for the dead.

“Anyone who wants to get this land should give respect to the dead, but as long as we continue to be in government as PF, farm 783 will continue to be a graveyard for the people of Shakubila,” declared Mr Mushanga.

We too think the bodies of the dead must be treated with deference and Zambians should earnestly begin to treat cemeteries as sacred and maintain them as such.

The Church should also join in this crusade against invasion of cemeteries in Zambia by land-thirsty individuals, more so that we are a Christian nation which is supposed to know better.

This it should do because we believe respect for the dead is overriding and we should not give room to these perfidious people to carry out their malevolent deeds because even in our African culture it is a taboo to incommode the dead.

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