4 April 2023

Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo (JCPZ), the custodians of green open spaces including cemeteries in the City of Joburg is saddened by the extensive damage and desecration of the Braamfontein cemetery due to the on-going acts of vandalism.

The JCPZ Cemeteries and Crematoria department is aware of the desecration of the vandalized memorial walls and niches, situated in a very private and secluded section of the 20-hectare cemetery. Vandalism of other structures such as fencing, burglaries and theft of steel fencing or engraving on tombstones and aluminum structures continues to be a challenge in combating these transgressions which attract theft.

Vandalism across the city and its structures requires a collective force from various stakeholders such as Johannesburg Metro Police Department, South African Police Services, the Department of Social Development, JCPZ Park Rangers, security companies, community groups and others, to prevent and discourage destruction in cemeteries.

Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo is in the process of engaging with these stakeholders to firstly, find immediate solutions to prevent these acts from recurring as well as long-term solutions of the relocation of displaced persons living in the Braamfontein cemeteries and other cemeteries across the city, into shelters and alternative housing. According to the Human Rights Commission, no person may be removed from a place or space without being provided with alternative accommodation and/or housing.

Regular patrols by JMPD, JCPZ Park Rangers and SAPS face challenges of displaced persons who return to the cemeteries as soon as the next day.

Vandalism is a global phenomenon and it has proven to be a difficult issue to address. Cemeteries around the world are not immune to vandalism although most acts stem from either a deliberate act to destroy property, other acts of a ritualistic nature, criminality in defiling these sacred places of rest, among others.

The damage of the reported vandalism at the Braamfontein cemetery, which by far is the largest form of damage in a single cemetery, with many niches destroyed has not yet been determined. This cemetery holds the remains of loved ones as early as the 1800’s.

We encourage family members whose loved ones have been laid to rest, to visit the Braamfontein cemetery to ascertain whether any damage has occurred to their loved ones’ tombstones and to report it to the relevant police stations. JCPZ is not responsible for reporting such matters. Disclaimer notices placed in cemeteries state that JCPZ is not responsible for the damage and theft of tombstones.

Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo is calling on the media fraternity, Friends of Cemeteries and interested organisations to assist in reinforcing the indignity and pain caused by these acts of vandalism and the effect it leaves of lasting scars to families.