A report on the archaeological investigation of a grave yard on the farm Smitspan 306 LQ, impacted on by the Sekoko Mine near Lephalale, Limpopo Province


During November 2010, Archaetnos cc was requested by Sekoko Resources to investigate a possible grave site identified on an area where mining is planned for the near future. These indeed proved to be graves and permission was obtained from SAHRA to have the graves exhumed and reburied.

An extensive process of social consultation was done by African Grave Relocation Specialists (AGRS) who also served as undertakers for the project. The number of the permit obtained from the Burial Grounds and Graves Unit (BGG) of the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) is BG/11/02/005/87.

The mining area is located on the farms Smitspan 306 JQ, Massenberg 305 JQ, Minnasvlakte 258 LQ and Hooikraal 315 LQ. The possible grave site identified is located on the farm Smitspan 306 LQ. This is close to Lephalale in the Limpopo Province.

The archaeological investigations at the site commenced during May/June 2011. At first it was believed that there are 15 graves, but grave number 4 proofed not to be one. Six of the graves contained skeletal remains and four others were identified by families. Another one had a headstone and three were found to be graves as indications of earlier disturbance of the soil (digging) could be detected. For those not containing skeletal remains, other grave associations (if found) and a soil sample was taken for reburial.

It is believed that the archaeological investigation, exhumation and relocation of the graves from the site were conducted successfully. Therefore the mining activities may continue.

Report by

Dr. A.C. van Vollenhoven (L.AKAD. S.A.)