DESPERATE home-seekers in Hopley continue to build houses within the vicinity of Granville Cemetery (KuMbudzi) after the failure by the Harare City Council (HCC) to provide alternative land for them.
BY MOSES MATENGA
Some of the houses are less than 10 metres from the graveyard.
Mourners who attended last week’s burial of Neil Tanatswa Mutyora, the boy who died after being knocked down by a commuter omnibus, in Harare’s central business district (CBD), expressed horror at the closeness of the houses to graves.
Some of the houses are built approximately seven metres from graves at a section known as B side meant for the burial of children.
Standardcommunity last week witnessed a number of toddlers playing near the graves, some of which were uncovered, oblivious of the dangers they were exposed to.
Some residents of the settlement, most of whom are victims of the 2005 Operation Murambatsvina, pass through the graves going to fetch firewood in the nearby bush.
One of the residents, Priscilla Musasiwa said they bought the stands for US$2 500 from some “officials” they could not name.
The structures range from wooden and plastic shacks to beautiful seven roomed houses. The HCC has threatened to demolish the structures.
It emerged that most of the people staying in this settlement operate small businesses at the auction floors while others were into illicit deals. Prostitution was also said to be rife in the Hopley suburb.
There are several brothels in the suburb which extend from the Boka Tobacco Auction floors, past the cemetery’s A section and straight into the B section of the cemetery.
“We know it is not proper to raise our children in such an environment but we have no choice,” said Musasiwa.
The families, whose houses are not fenced, walled or gated, said they have become used to mourners’ eulogies, grief and wailing, which come on a daily basis.
Last week, council said all illegal structures would be demolished, including houses.