Brave soldiers’graves desecrated

The perpetrators have removed metal frames from the memorial stones, which were engraved with the name, the date of birth and the date of death of the deceased. They serve as a crucial tool for families to find gravesites when visiting the cemetery.

In most cultures, graves are viewed as sacred places and are treated with respect. But, for criminals in the Barberton Garden of Remembrance area, these age-old beliefs do not seem to matter.

Col Deon Höll, the Old Bill of the Barberton Lonetree Shellhole from the Memorable Order of Tin Hats, received a call from Whitey Rossouw last Saturday informing him of the damage to the memorial stones.

Read More: Garden of Remembrance receives face lift

“I went there immediately and I met Rossouw at the Garden of Remembrance next to the Anglo-Boer War memorial site. When we went inside, I found three soldiers’ memorial stones destroyed,” said Höll.

He said at the scene, one could see that people had been drinking there, as there were empty cans of alcohol.

“There was no indication as to who broke down the memorial stones or drank alcohol there. However, there were three vehicles parked under the trees near the memorial and the occupants were drinking. We cannot, however, point a finger at them for the damage. Our concern is that people should not go to the remembrance area and drink alcohol. That area is a place where respect has to be given to the soldiers who gave up their lives during wars trying to protect the country,” continued Höll.

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He said if people visit the Garden of Remembrance, they need to do so with respect.

“The area belongs to the military unit of Regiment Botha and any organisation can not go there to make any changes, like putting up a fence to protect the area, without their permission. The area is visited by many people, from overseas tourists to military units, because it is also part of their history.”

He said military parades have been held at the Garden of Remembrance before, not only by local units but also those from other areas.

“We can’t allow the history of Barberton to be destroyed by people who can’t behave themselves. We recommend that the area be fenced off for protection against vandalism, but still kept available for visitors under security measures,” concluded Höll.

A case of malicious damage to property is being investigated by the Barberton SAPS.

Richard Nkosi

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