Apartheid survives beyond the grave in Upington

UPINGTON – Near the Upington train station, the cemetery formerly reserved for whites is closed for burials.

Three workers maintain the graves.

But behind the station, there are also scattered tombstones and heaps of sand of the old black cemetery. It has no fence and no one to maintain the graves.

Buried in the old white cemetery is George St Leger Gordon Lennox, nicknamed Scotty Smith. He was known as Robin Hood, who stole from the rich and gave to the poor, with his graveyard marketed as a tourist attraction by the municipality. He died in 1919 during the flu epidemic at the age of 74.

“The grave is one of the big tourist attractions,” said curator Johlene van Niekerk of the Kalahari Oranje Museum.

George Phomolo Lebaea, who used to work at the graveyard said: “I have seen bones next to the graves. He says he does not know if the bones belonged to people or not.

Lebaea also said that in the past the municipality would employ about 20 people to clean the graveyard. “That was last in 2016,” he claims. But behind the station, in the old black cemetery, there are no maintenance workers at all.

There is no fence around the graves. Some have tombstones, while others are marked simply by stones and heaps of sand.

The municipality’s head of parks, Willie Brand, could not be reached for comment.

Photo Credit- News24

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