Police are sending a stern warning to people who buy stolen goods from grave robbers.
This comes after the family of the late Kyle Davids, a professional soccer player from Parkwood, were left heartbroken when his grave was vandalised and the flowers stolen for reselling.
The 25-year old died of cancer and was buried at Klip Road cemetery on Saturday September 26.
A family member who visited the grave site the next day discovered that the flowers were missing.
His sister Kim Davids said her uncle found the grave desecrated as well as a pocket knife at the grave.
“My uncle then went to the police station to report it. It’s very frustrating and heartbreaking because my brother was not even under the ground for long when they stole the flowers. I don’t understand why people would do something like that – it’s terrible,” said Ms Davids.
She said people usually cut the stems of flowers short so that it cannot be resold but thieves still take them. She encouraged people to not buy stolen flowers.
Grassy Park Community Police Forum (CPF) chairperson, Melvyn Jonkers, said the forum condemned the vandalism of graves and also advised people not to buy stolen flowers.
“It is an offence to be in possession of stolen goods and those caught with stolen goods can be arrested. We cannot condone the theft of flowers and vandalism of graves.
“For some people visiting the graves of a loved one is an emotional experience and to find that it’s been vandalised is even more emotional,” said Mr Jonkers.
Grassy Park police spokesperson Captain Wynita Kleinsmith said one person was arrested on Sunday September 27 for possession of stolen goods relating to the theft of flowers.
“A 25-year old suspect from Parkwood was arrested at about 4pm. We have been patrolling in the graveyard following reports about robberies at the graveyard. While officers were patrolling they found him between the grave sites with flowers and a vase. He tried to run but officers gave chase and apprehended him,” she said.
Two other men, aged 34 and 25, also from Parkwood, were arrested by Captain Ashley Petersen and his team of officers for trespassing on Monday September 1.
Station commander Colonel Dawood Laing said numerous complaints of theft and vandalism were reported and they believe there is a group of men behind these crimes.
Colonel Laing said anyone caught in possession of stolen flowers or any other stolen goods can be arrested.
“The theft of flowers may seem like a petty offence, but the disrespect shown by these men is intolerable.”
Mr Jonkers said residents should report suspicious activity at the cemetery, particularly the theft of the fencing.
“Every time the City of Cape Town erects new fencing it is stolen, we condemn it and do not condone it. We encourage people to report these crimes, to call police and have the suspects apprehended,” he said.
The City’s Mayoral committee member for community services and health, Dr Zahied Badroodien said the fencing has been replaced on numerous occasions.
“The reality is that we have a social problem which manifests itself as crime and vandalism on easy targets such as cemeteries. Cemeteries are no longer viewed as places of respect towards the deceased but rather a means to an end”.
He said as long as anti-social habits such as drug and alcohol abuse perpetuate in society, cemeteries will remain soft targets for resources which can easily be stolen to generate cash.
“Acts of vandalism are unfortunately a frequent occurrence and the cost of continuous repair is unsustainable. Members of the public are encouraged to report cases of vandalism to the South African Police Service and the City’s Law Enforcement Department,” he said.
All three men appeared in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court.