Residents of Hopley who stay close to Granville Cemetery in Harare are calling on local authorities to reclaim the graves which have been dug up by sand poachers to the extent of leaving human remains exposed.

A grave is a sacred place, with the inscribed words “Rest In Peace (RIP)” meant to be a constant reminder that it should never be tampered with at least for the sake of respecting the dead.

However, a visit to Granville Cemetery, commonly known as Kumbudzi, clearly shows that the inhabitants at that place are no longer resting in peace.

Pieces of black plastic papers and blankets used to wrap bodies can be seen protruding from the ground, with many pointing to sand poachers as the main culprits.

“The sand poachers are the ones who have dug up these graves. At one point a customer had to return a load after he found a human skull,” said one resident.

But what is more disturbing is the fact that within the same graveyard, people have dug shallow wells and queue for water amid the bones and protruding black body wrappers.

“We have no choice because there is no water so we end up digging shallow wells inside the cemetery,” said another resident.

Harare City Council Spokesperson, Mr Michael Chideme said city fathers will soon start the reclamation of the graves which have been tampered with.

“We have been battling with the sand poachers, but now that we have managed to stop them we will yet again begin the reclamation process,” said Mr Chideme.

The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and the city council might have successfully managed to stop the sand poachers at Granville Cemetery for now, but the damage has already been done.

With the rains expected any time from now, one hopes the situation will be rectified soon before the remains start floating into homes.