Archaetnos cc was requested by EIMS to conduct a heritage impact assessment (HIA) for the proposed Brakpan-Vlakplaats Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW) Outfall Sewer. This is in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng Province. The line starts south of North Boundary Road and goes south / south west through Vosloorus to the Vlakplaats Waste Water Treatment Works. The HIA forms part of the Environmental Impact Assessment.


The methodology for the study includes a survey of literature and a field survey. The latter was conducted according to generally accepted HIA practices and was aimed at locating all possible objects, sites and features of cultural significance in the area of proposed development.


If required, the location/position of any site was determined by means of a Global Positioning System (GPS), while photographs were also taken where needed.  The survey was undertaken by doing a physical survey via off-road vehicle and on foot and covered as much as possible of the area to be studied. Certain factors, such as accessibility, density of vegetation, etc. may however influence the coverage.


All sites, objects, features and structures identified were documented according to the general minimum standards accepted by the archaeological profession. Co-ordinates of individual localities were determined by means of the GPS. The information was added to the description in order to facilitate the identification of each locality.


During the survey one site of cultural heritage significance were identified within the immediate project area.


The following is recommended:


  • The one site identified, number 1, are graves. These are always of high heritage significance. There are two ways of dealing with graves.
    • The first option would be to fence the graves in and have a management plan drafted for the sustainable preservation thereof. This should be written by a heritage expert. This usually is done when the graves are in no danger of being damaged, but where there will be a secondary impact due to the activities of the development.
    • The second option is to exhume and relocate the mortal remains. This usually is done when the graves are in the area to be directly affected by the development activities. For this a specific procedure should be followed which includes social consultation. For graves younger than 60 years, only an undertaker is needed. For those older than 60 years and unknown graves an undertaker and archaeologist are needed. Permits should be obtained from the Burial Grounds and Graves unit of SAHRA. This procedure is quite lengthy.


The grave site may be impacted by the development, but because it is about 120m away from the development the graves may be left in situ and must be fenced off. The grave site may be impacted by the development, but because it is about 120m away from the development the graves may be left in situ and must be fenced off permanently. In addition, during construction, access to construction workers and machinery should not be allowed.


  • Only after implementation of the above mitigation measures and upon receiving the necessary comments from the heritage authority, the proposed development may continue.


  • It should be noted that the subterranean presence of archaeological and/or historical sites, features or artifacts is always a distinct possibility. Due to the density of vegetation, it is also possible that some sites may only become known later on. Operating controls and monitoring should therefore be aimed at the possible unearthing of such features. Care should therefore be taken when development commences and if any of these are discovered, a qualified archaeologist be called in to investigate the occurrence.


  • In this regards the following ‘Chance find Procedure’ (including palaeontology) should be followed:


  1. Upon finding any archaeological/palaeontological or historical material all work at the affected area must cease.

2.     The area should be demarcated in order to prevent any further work there until an investigation has been completed.

3.     An archaeologist or palaeontologist (whichever is applicable) should be contacted immediately to provide advice on the matter.

  1. Should it be a minor issue, the archaeologist/palaeontologist will decide on future action, which could include adapting the HIA or not. Depending on the nature of the find, it may include a site visit.
  2. SAHRA’s APM Unit may also be notified.

6.     If needed, the necessary permit will be applied for with SAHRA. This will be done in conjunction with the appointed archaeologist.

7.     The removal of such archaeological/palaeontological material will be done by the archaeologist in lieu of the approval given by SAHRA, including any conditions stipulated by the latter.

8.     Work on site will only continue after removal of the archaeological/palaeontological/historical material was done.

Report by

Prof. A.C. van Vollenhoven (L.AKAD.SA.) Accredited member of ASAPA Accredited member of SASCH