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Restoration efforts commence for 5,000 vandalised ash walls at Braamfontein Cemetery



ash walls at Braamfontein Cemetery restored

Friends of Johannesburg Cemeteries (FOJC) is spearheading the initiative to have the 5,000 ash walls at Braamfontein Cemetery restored to their former glory in a monumental restoration effort.

The serene memorials at Braamfontein Cemetery fell victim to heart-wrenching acts of vandalism by callous individuals in March, leaving the ash walls in utter devastation.

According to Sarah Welham, founder of FOJC, the vandals went on a rampage, removing approximately 5,000 plaques from the ash walls. In cases where removal was impossible, they resorted to smashing them, inflicting irreparable damage.

The desecration of this sacred space has left both families of the deceased, whose ashes are interred there, and the wider community appalled by the destruction.

Cebo Mhlongo, the manager for environmental protection at Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo (JCPZ), acknowledged the severity of the situation and stated that internal teams had taken steps to address the desecration and vandalism at the historical Braamfontein Cemetery. Following an inspection of the grounds on June 12, there were no reports of further incidents of vandalism since the deployment of additional security guards and the necessary maintenance.


FOJC volunteers have admirably embarked on the challenging task of reinstating the niches for some plaques, meticulously matching vandalised plaques with their correct names based on existing records. Their dedication and hard work are highly appreciated.

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Cremations have been taking place at Braamfontein Cemetery since the 1930s, and over time, the adhesive used to secure older marble or granite plaques has deteriorated, making them more susceptible to removal by vandals.

Welham expressed the enormity of the restoration project, with volunteers diligently documenting the details of each plaque armed with clipboards and lists during their meetings over four separate weekends. Piecing together shattered plaques to decipher the inscriptions has proven physically and emotionally demanding work.

The goal is to complete the restoration of the ash walls in the coming days. Simultaneously, painstaking efforts are underway to meticulously cross-reference cremation registers, ensuring that the correct plaques are restored to their rightful niches. To safeguard the extensive lists for the future, digitisation is currently underway.


Last week, some plaques were successfully affixed to their original positions using materials provided by generous individuals like Jonathan Felix from Helping Hands and organisations like Union Tiles in Strijdom Park, who donated their time and materials for the restoration work. However, this ongoing process will be arduous, time-consuming, and costly unless sponsorship or donations from the public or affected families can be secured.

Those wishing to assist in this noble endeavour are encouraged to contact the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation by emailing [email protected]. The collective effort and support will play a crucial role in preserving the sacred and historic nature of Braamfontein Cemetery.

Source: Work begins to restore 5 000 vandalised ash walls at Braamfontein Cemetery

Also read:

Braamfontein Cemetery’s ash walls vandalized


Picture: Twitter / JoburgHeritage

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