Police in the midst of mourners and grave diggers at the cemetery

By Louise Jobe 

Incidents of severe clashes took place between the villagers of Taneneh and Police Intervention Unit (PIU) personnel, over the refusal of some people villagers to bury their dead in their cemetery. The clash was so severe that tear gas had to be used to subdue the angry villagers and fortunately, no one was hurt. According to reports, a young villager who belongs to the Christian faith, died and was to be buried in the Christian cemetery; that some people refuse family members of the deceased to bury their loved one at the cemetery because the land where the Christian cemetery is located is said to belong to one Seedy Barrow of Gunjur village; that Seedy deliberately decided to seize the whole land area which included the grave yard.

When this reporter visited the site, he saw the presence of PIU personnel. Samuel Gomez, one of the elders of the village and a member of the Christian faith, said the dispute relates to the use of the land where their cemetery is located by people who harbour their own selfish interest; that the matter had been a longstanding dispute between them and the Barrow Kunda kabilo of Gunjur but has resurfaced now with intensity to this extent during this new dispensation.

Gomez said they have written so many times to this new Government to mediate on the issue to no avail, noting that they have been using the cemetery for decades and expressed his utter disappointment and frustration with the manner the PIU handled the matter. According to Gomez, the PIU arrived at about 17.30 pm; that after seeing the chaotic nature of the situation, they threw teargas at people and arrested some of the village youth and took them to Brikama Police Station where they were charged for Criminal trespass and bailed.

The following were the people arrested and taken to the Brikama Police Station: Samuel Gomez, Louie Mendy, Francis A. Mendy, Sampierre Mendy, Alex Sambou, Raul Gomez, Andrew Gomez, Peter Gomez, Abdoulie Mendy and Patrick Mendy. They are all said to be close relatives of the deceased and were the ones digging the grave.

The Vicar General, Father Emile told Foroyaa they have been using this cemetery for decades. He said the problem has arisen because the land has been sold to someone who is using it as an orchard and thereby desecrating the cemetery.

By Thursday afternoon the police were still surrounding the cemetery while religious leaders discussed with the authorities to facilitate the burial of their loved one.

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