LIVING WITH THE DEAD

…Unnatural nocturnal activities scare residents near graveyards

1860

LINDA SOKO-TWMBO writes

PEOPLE living in houses that are bordered by graveyards have complained of interference from unnatural forces at night and drunkards during the day, who spend hours imbibing atop graves.

Despite living next to a resting place, the residents on the periphery of Chunga, bordered by graves, hardly rest because of anxious nights spent worrying about spirits visiting them or witches descending on their homes to attack them.

 A Lusaka Sun team which yesterday visited the Chunga and Chingwele graveyards, Lusaka’s low cost cemeteries, found the area awash with tales of spiritual attacks and frustration.

The residents think that witchcraft rather than ghostly activities, was at play because of choking encounters that some have experienced while deep in sleep.

A member of one family whose house is situated at the edge of the sprawling Chunga Cemetery, complained about having sleepless nights because of activities of suspected witches she claimed ‘congregate there in the night’.

Another family living near the Chingwele cemetery has complained of perpetual disturbances throughout the day by the mourners who usually engage in binge drinking during burial processions.

They have appealed to the local authority to consider banning the sale of alcohol and drinking at graveyards.

Dorothy Kayembi, 24, says though the graves always appear peaceful and quiet every time she views them from her bedroom window at night but she is still unable to find sleep because of harassment from suspected witches.

They really give us hell. We are unable to find sleep at night,” stated Dorothy.

She said: “Like last night, I was awoken by some mysterious presence of someone in my room, trying to suffocate me but I woke up and began praying.”

“I have experienced that for a while now. Some of my neighbours have also complained about having similar experiences,” added Dorothy.

Her family, comprising her mother and two brothers, has lived near Chunga graveyard for the past five years but now plans to abandon the house and shift to another area.

“We want to put our house on rent and shift from here. We are fed up of harassment by the witches,” she stated.

Dorothy’s neighbour, Mary Ndhlovu, also explained some strange incidents when she felt like some strange force was trying to press her down in sleep thereby forcing her to simply wake up and start praying.

“My husband also went through a similar experience but we woke up and began to pray,” she said.

“We literally have to sleep with our bibles by the side for fear of witches,” revealed 35 year old Mary who has lived near the Chunga cemetery all her life.

She said, “A prophet once told us a group of witches from the compound congregates in the cemetery every night, and we suspect they are the ones troubling us,” she said.

At the more active Chingwele Cemetery, 54-year old Dainess Tembo complained about disturbances from mourners whom she says are usually drinking throughout the burial processions.

“It’s hell living here. As you can see, most mourners these days come here to just drink and make noise. It’s very disrespectful,” Daines observed.

She appealed to the local authority to ban the sale and drinking of alcohol at graveyards.

“We experience 10 or more funerals every day. You can imagine what we are subjected to. People just drinking and causing all sorts of confusion,” complained Daines.

“The graveyard is usually regarded as a peaceful place because it is usually quiet but we do not have any peace living here at all because of rowdy mourners,” she said.

A check around the cemetery found several mourners sitting on the graves, in camps, and drinking opaque beer and the potent ‘tujirijiri’ spirits which were also being sold by vendors in cooler boxes dotted around the graveyard.

But Lusaka City Council has warned it is illegal for anyone to sell alcohol or any other intoxicating drinks at graveyards and that it will deal “harshly” with anyone going against the ban.

“Statutory Instrument number 12 of 2018 clearly bans street vending, be it in the central business district or at the graveyard,” said Council Assistant Public Relations Manager Brenda Katongola in Lusaka yesterday.

She revealed that the local authority has recently employed 150 police officers who will soon be deployed around the city to ensure people abide by the council regulations.

“Some of them will be stationed at graveyards to ensure that law and order prevails there too,” she said.

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