Too Old To Dig Graves: Harare City Employees


By Helen Kadirire


Harare City Council (HCC) is now outsourcing manpower to dig graves at its grave sites as most of them are now too old for the job.


According to community services committee minutes, the labour would be provided by Nyaradzo Funeral Services for the next 30 days with a provision for extension depending on the situation.



The funeral service provider has assisted council over the years through provision of water, grave yard maintenance at Warren Hills Cemetery, providing protective clothing, grass cutting and tree planting to name a few.



“The committee noted that the section had been faced with a shortage of grave digging labour that had been caused by the increase in demand for burial space due to the surge in Cpovid-19 deaths. The rate of burial now stood at 40 burials per day, requiring 80 grave diggers (considering that one grave digger produced a grave in two days, alternatively two grave diggers produced one grave per day),” read part of the minutes.



The minutes noted that some of the cemetery hands were no longer capable of performing grave digging duties due to old age, while some had chronic ailments.



Harare’s cemeteries section has 77 grave diggers distributed among the nine cemeteries but only 47 can perform the tedious tasks while the rest do maintenance.



The city has nine active cemeteries namely Granville A and B or kuMbudzi, Highfield, Mbare, Warren Hills, Dzivarasekwa, Greendale, Mabvuku and Pioneer.


In 2016 council resolved to close Warren Hills Cemetery for public burials as it was setting aside the remaining land for expansion of the Provincial Heroes Cemetery.




As per housing committee minutes Warren Hills had more than seven hectares of serviced land remaining for burial.



“The provincial Heroes Cemetery authorities wanted the remaining 7,2 hectares for the expansion of the Provincial heroes cemetery and construction of memorials. The committee noted that the land was available on the hillside of the cemetery but was expensive to service and develop, therefore not immediately available for burial,” read part of the minutes.



Since then, Harare has been looking for partners in the development of the terraced graves at Warren Hills mountain and for other spaces to bury the deceased.

Robert Tapfumaneyi

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