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Thursday, November 29, 2007

18. Tomb raiders plunder six graves in the city

Tomb raiding activities, previously confined to cemeteries in Sibu and Miri, have apparently now spread to Kuching when six tombs at the Batu Kitang Anglican Cemetery were found desecrated yesterday morning.
In the incident, grave robbers emptied the contents of four of the six tombs, all of which belong to Dayak women. There were signs of digging on the side of the tombs, apparently to get to the coffins before these were forced opened.
A check revealed that the affected tombs belonged to those born in the 1940s and 1950s and passed away in the late 90s.
The fact that the affected graves belong to women led some to speculate that the culprits were after jewellery and other valuables buried inside the coffins.
According to the parish council secretary for St Thomas’ Church Robert Tnay, the despicable act was brought to his attention by the Dean of Kuching Anglican Diocese, the Very Reverend Aries Sumping, at 8am yesterday after he was informed by a member of the public.
Speaking to The Borneo Post, Tnay said he went to the cemetery around 10am to verify the incident and immediately lodged a police report at the Kota Padawan police station at Mile 10.
“The affected tombs belong to those who were among the first to be buried at this cemetery,” said Tnay, adding that he believed the older tombs were targeted because they were so-called ‘earthen tombs’.
“The culprits probably thought it would be easier to get into the older tombs as opposed to newer tombs which are made of concrete,” he said.
Tnay also said that they were now trying to contact the next-of-kin of those affected to inform them of the incident.
Meanwhile, officer-in-charge of the Kota Padawan police station, Sgt Major Hillary Joseph Sumping, confirmed the case and said police are now investigating the incident.
He added that the incident was the first to be reported here this year, but said similar incidents had occurred in previous years but were not reported in the media.
This latest tomb raiding incident comes after grave robbers struck an Anglican cemetery at Riam Road in Miri earlier this month.
In the Nov 14 edition of The Borneo Post, it was reported that the robbers desecrated a total of six graves, three of which were graves of children.
At that time, locals there believed the robbers were after the bones of the dead rather than valuables, although no one has stepped forward with evidence to support the theory that the robbers were up to something more sinister than just stealing valuables.

Borneo Post 29/11/07

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