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Mpumalanga municipality ‘running out of graveyard space’

Almost 60 percent of all female homicide victims were killed by intimate partners, according to a 2009 MRC study
Written by Cynthia Maseko

Lekwa Local Municipality graveyards are allegedly filling up and the area’s high HIV prevalence rate are is to blame, according to Lekwa Executive Mayor Linda Dhlamini.

Nationally, the funeral business boomed with the advent of HIV & more recently HIV treatment was credited with the industry's falling sales  (File photo)

Nationally, the funeral business boomed with the advent of HIV & more recently HIV treatment was credited with the industry’s falling sales (File photo)

“We are running out of graveyard space as a municipality and we need to stop this,” said Dhlamini who spoke at the recent launch of the municipality’s new model to improve service delivery and the local HIV response. “Lekwa Municipality is third in the province in terms of HIV prevalence…no one should be dying of HIV in this municipality.”

The province has adopted a new “war room” model of local government to improve service delivery and better address HIV as part of the recently launched Operation Vuka Sisebente.

Housing representatives from various government departments including health, social development and home affairs, the new war room model is expected to improve inter-departmental coordination and has been successfully rolled out in KwaZulu-Natal.

Since 2011, KwaZulu-Natal has l established more than 600 functioning war rooms. These war rooms have become a central feature of the HIV response by collecting important health and socio-economic data and responding to households’ needs.

About 14 percent of people living in Mpumalanga are HIV positive, according to the most recent Human Science Research Council HIV household survey. The province is second only to KwaZulu-Natal in its burden of HIV and more localised data paint an even more worrying picture.

Lekwa Municipality is located in Mpumalanga’s Gert Sibande District. The country’s 2012 antenatal HIV survey conducted among pregnant women found that about 46 percent of expecting mums in Gert Sibande district were living with the virus.

At the recent launch, Dhlamini encouraged people to go for HIV counselling and testing services, which were offered on site at the recent Standerton event. Those who tested HIV positive were referred to the Lilian Mambakazi Community Health Centre where the department of health has partnered with a local home-based care group to conduct follow ups, according to the Department of Health’s sub-district assistant area manager Sello Sibanyoni.

As part of Operation Vuka Sisebente, the municipality will be holding community consultations in the area regarding access to piped water and sanitation.

The municipality also handed over almost 400 titled deeds to RDP house recipients at the recent war room launch.

An edited version of this story also appeared on and SowetanLive

About the author

Cynthia Maseko

Cynthia Maseko joined OurHealth in 2013 as a citizen journalist working in Mpumalanga. She is passionate about women’s health issues and joined Treatment Action Campaign branch as a volunteer after completing her matric. As an activist she has been involved with Equal Treatment, Planned Parenthood Association of South Africa, Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV and also with Marie Stopes Clinic’s project Blue Star dealing with the promotion of safe abortions and HIV education.

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