Some graveyards in Douala have since become no-go areas even in daylight as a result of the activities of ruffians. These days, goose pimples rise in those who dare pass by the Njo-Njo Cemetery in Bonapriso in the Douala I Council area.
The thugs, most of them homeless according to neighbours to the cemetery, seek shelter in the house-like graves during the day, taking advantage to assault passersby. They smoke and sniff harmful drugs while waiting for victims. The presence of hooligans in graveyards has scared families wishing to drop bouquets of flowers on relatives’ graves.
According to a cameraman in a renowned television station in Douala, the men of the underworld assaulted his grown-up daughter who went to pay homage on her mother’s grave in Njo-Njo Cemetery. According to neighbours, the miscreants attack passersby with machetes, rape girls, waylay motorbike riders and rob them of money, jewellery and bikes. Some of them collude with commercial bike riders who know the calibre of victims to transport.
One of the neighbours who preferred not to be named said the cemetery robbers knock on their doors at night and even sit on their verandas during the day when they are not around. “They pick shoes and clothes left outside. As a result, we now ensure that our washed clothes and other items dry before leaving for the living room,” a nearby resident to the demolished Cité de Douanes in Bonapriso chipped in.
The unkempt nature of some graveyards, the lack of streetlights and police patrols, facilitates the activities of hoodlums. Njo-Njo Cemetery neighbours suggested that regular police patrols could salvage the situation. However, not all the cemeteries in Douala harbour criminals. Companies and neighbours to the Bonadibong Cemetery in Akwa had long understood the need for environmental sanitation. The regular cleanliness of the graveyard has reduced the incidence of assault in the area, they said.