A REPORT ON THE ASSESSMENT OF THE SHONGWE GRAVE SITE, CLOSE TO MALELANE, MPUMALANGA PROVINCE
Archaetnos cc was requested by Environmental Consultants International to assess a grave site identified in an area where it is planned to build a water reservoir as part of the Driekoppies water scheme. The site was discovered while in the process of looking for a suitable site for the reservoir. The aim was to advise and make recommendations in this regard.
A Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) was not conducted, since the site was already known. An HIA will however be done as part of the larger project. Nevertheless, the same principles as that of an HIA was implemented. The site was visited in order to obtain contextual information. The site visit was also used to determine more or less the extent of the grave site as well as to estimate the number of graves in order to utilize this in recommending appropriate action.
The site is located at Shongwe in Mpumalanga. This is south of Malelane and close to the Jeppe’s Reef border post with Swaziland.
The site was visited in order to obtain contextual information. This was coupled with information known about the proposed development on site, applicable legislation and the best practice of dealing with graves.
It needs to be indicated that the land owner is the responsible authority to take care of this site. The site visit was also used to determine more or less the extent of the grave site in order to utilize this in recommending appropriate action.
There are two options when dealing with graves. Both options are discussed in the report. A risk assessment is done, in which the two options are compared to one another. In order to facilitate preservation and prevent possible future delays during the implementation of the development, appropriate mitigation measures are recommended. The development can continue once the SAHRA BGG Unit allows it.
In conclusion it is clear that that there is no easy solution. The nature of the grave site is such that it is impossible to be certain that all graves (and therefore the perimeters of the site) has been accounted for.
The final recommendations therefore are as follows:
- It is recommended that the site be preserved in situ. It means that Option 1 is recommended. The site should be fenced in and a management plan be drafted for the site. The plan should give clear instruction on the handling of buffer zones, accessibility, permanent fencing and the implementation of the sustainable preservation measures indicated in the plan. Such a management plan will entail detailed information regarding the preservation of the sites.
- The management plan should be approved by SAHRA.
- The above is the responsibility of the land owner.
- Should the developer owner decide to rather go for Option 2 (exhumation and relocation), it may be allowed.
- It should however be realized that it will probably include more than the 100 graves identified.
- The land owner may also wish to determine a more accurate site perimeter. It is recommended that this be done via GPRS survey.
- Any future development in the area, should only be allowed outside of the perimeters of the grave site.