Kingtom Ebola Cemetery Now a Haven for Hoodlums
October 25, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai
A special cemetery at Kingtom in Freetown reserved for dead Ebola victims is being neglected by the Freetown City Council (FCC) and now covered in thick bush and is a haven for hoodlums.
The cemetery was officially handed over to the FCC in February 2016 by the Ebola Resilient Programme Unit at Concern Worldwide.
While an inscription on the perimeter fence of the cemetery reads: “Love, Family, and Respect for the dead,” investigation conducted by this medium has proven otherwise.
Family Liaison Officer at Concern Worldwide, Mohamed Ngegba, said in an interview recently that a lot of money was spent to set up both the Kingtom and Waterloo Ebola cemeteries.
“The essence of these cemeteries was to always remind Sierra Leoneans and foreigners that an epidemic invaded and claimed the lives of many people in the country. Since Concern Worldwide handed over the site to the FCC much has not been done to keep it clean and tidy. As you can see, the site is bushy and unsightly. You can hardly identify a grave and this has been the concern of most family members who from time-to-time visit the site,” he explained.
The Ebola Resilient Line Manager at Concern, Dan Otieno, confirmed that the two sites were officially handed over to FCC in 2016, blaming the present state of affairs on neglect by the council.
“Waterloo burial site was fortunate to be cleaned up by our organisation due to the recent mudslide which claimed the lives of over 500 victims who were buried at the same site. FCC has to take responsibility to ensure that victims continue to rest in dignity and respect,” he appealed.
According to Augustus Manley, a Freetown resident, much respect and attention have not been given to victims buried at the Kingtom Ebola cemetery.
He expressed concern as to lack of security at the cemetery, which as a result has turned the sacred ground into a thoroughfare and hideout for hoodlums who open graves at night.
“Why can’t we respect the dead? The cemetery is the beginning of our journey to hell or heaven, therefore, authorities responsible should endeavour to always keep grave sites clean,” he urged.
However, Cemetery Clerk at Kingtom, Mamoud Marah, told Concord Times that only four regular staff are on council’s payroll tasked with maintaining the cemetery, while the rest are volunteers.
“I have presented several monthly reports to council on the challenges of staff, including cemetery equipment to effectively do our work to keep the cemetery clean so that all the departed rest in perfect peace,” he claimed.
FCC’s Chief Administrator, Mohamed A.S. Koroma, admitted that they have not cleaned up the Ebola cemetery since the second quarter of 2017, but added that “plans are underway to brush the cemetery soon. We have supplied equipment like shovels, cutlasses, hoes, among others to the staff at the cemetery so that the cleaning exercise would start at any time from now.”