Shock, outrage over tombstone theft

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Ondangwa

Four families have been left distraught after tombstones were stolen from the graves of their loved ones at a graveyard at Onawa yaAbisai in Okaku Constituency.

The constituency made headlines for all the wrong reasons last year after five children were hospitalised under bizarre circumstances for killing a snake.

Relatives of those whose tombstones were targeted expressed shock and have each opened a case of theft with the police in Ondangwa against the unknown perpetrator/s.

The stolen tombstones are said to have been unveiled between 2008 and 2012.
It is not yet known when the tombstones were stolen, however the discovery was made in the last weekend of February by a girl who was passing by the cemetery located along a path used by pedestrians.

“The girl notified the relatives of the one grave she saw had a missing tombstone and that is how the rest were discovered,” said the village headman Absai Michael Shikulo.

Unconfirmed reports claim a vehicle belonging to a funeral parlour was spotted for two nights at the cemetery prior to the tombstones’ disappearance.

It is suspected that the tombstones were stolen to be reworked and then resold.
The 84-year-old Balakius Lazarus who was at the cemetery when New Era visited said he had never before heard of tombstones disappearing from graveyards.

“This is a big house – where is the person taking them to? There is no luck in stealing tombstones,” said the shocked Lazarus.
Iita Rehabeam explained that although the deceased were from different households they were all distant relatives.

The councillor for Okaku, Hannu Kapenda, has since advised the families to fence off the graves to prevent similar thefts in future.
Kapenda also warned people to stop implicating themselves in matters that will bring the constituency’s name into disrepute.
Kapenda appealed to the police to fast-track the investigation to apprehend the suspect or suspects.

Meanwhile, the families are planning to hold meetings to determine how they would put up new tombstones at the graves because the five-year guarantee only covers natural deformation of tombstones.

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