The coffins that were found dumped in an abandoned house at Ravele.
Residents in Ravele, Sinthumule area, were left in a state of horror after six empty coffins, some seemingly dug up from graves, were found in an abandoned house in the village on Thursday, 1 February.
The coffins were reportedly discovered by the village’s community-night-watch group who were patrolling the area. According to one member, who wished to remain anonymous, they were raiding a house in the residential area suspected of being used to hide stolen property on the night the gruesome discovery was made when they sensed a very bad smell. “We found a lot of coffins. They were empty, but some had clearly already been used. There were blood-stained tissues stuffed in them, and they were covered in soil. Others looked new. Two were children’s coffins, while the other four were adult-sized coffins,” said the source.
Police spokesperson Sgt Tshifhiwa Radzilani confirmed the discovery of the coffins. “What is baffling to us is the fact that no incidents of dug-up graves had been reported in the area recently. Therefore, we are not discounting the possibility that the coffins could have come from somewhere else. We will get to the bottom of this as soon as we start with our investigations,” said Radzilani.
How these coffins got there will remain a mystery until the investigation is finished, but the community fears that the area might be targeted by grave robbers. “We are still trying to get over the shock and hope the police can track the origins of the coffins. The big question now is what happened to the corpses?” said a resident.
According to Mr Sam Ntshauba, chairperson of the South African Funeral Practitioners Association, this was not the first incident of its kind in the Vhembe area. He said that thugs have been targeting the most expensive tombstones in the graveyard of late. The suspicion is that the stolen tombstones would be polished and erected on other graves. He said the community was now working with different structures to make sure that this did not happen again.
Ntshauba believes that bogus local undertakers, and the people they hire to erect tombstones and coffins, are most likely behind the disappearing coffins and tombstones in the Vhembe area. “People spend so much money on coffins and tombstones, and these guys are stealing them to resell them again‚” he said.
He warned the culprits to refrain from these “barbaric” practices as the community will eventually no longer trust undertakers. He also warned the community to watch out for cheap, unregistered labourers and to report these kinds of incidents to the police.
Date:09 February 2024
Kaizer Nengovhela started writing stories for Limpopo Mirror in 2000. Prior to that he had a five year stint at Phala-Phala FM as sports presenter. In 2005 Kaizer received an award from the province's premier as Best Sports Presenter. The same year he was also nominated as Best Sports Reporter by the Makhado Municipality. Kaizer was awarded the Mathatha Tsedu award in 2014.