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A group of youth destroyed 166 tombstones in Ketchene Cemetery after they were told to not chew Khat in the area. A representative from the Ketchen Cemetery Development and Administration Office said the gang jumped over the graveyard wall on the night of May 13 and vandalized the cemetery.

The Gulelle Police Department has arrested four suspects and is still conducting an investigation.

The tombstones were between five and ten years old. Gulelle Sub City and Tiger Security Agency which employs the cemetery guards covered the cost of the cement and sand to rebuild the cemetery. Small and medium enterprises that dig graves and construct tombstones provided their services for free and by last Thursday May 18, the burial sites had already been reconstructed.

People have asked how the youth were able to do so much damage when there are guards at the site. Over 27 guards work in shifts at the cemetery and 10 of them are employed by the government while the rest are employed by Tiger Security Agency. However at night only five guards are on duty patrolling an area covering 11 hectares.

Tsehay Kebede, Case Manager at Ketcehene Cemetery Development and Administration  Office told Capital that the youth around the area frequently come into the cemetery to chew khat.

“We told people not to enter the graveyard many times but they come in any way to chew Khat and steal from the grave sites,” Mehari Tesafye, Manger of Tiger Security Agency said adding that they plan to increase the height of the wall surrounding the graveyard.

He feels more guards are needed to prevent further crime.

“As a security agency we are responsible for protecting everything but we need more than the five guards we currently have because the graveyard sits on a large area of land. There is a wall on two sides of the graveyard but there are many pathways so we have asked the authorities to fence the entire area. Hyenas also climb over the walls and get into the cemetery at night,” he said.

There are plans to change the area into a green park.