A report on the rescue of an infant burial accidentally discovered during mining operations at the Mafube Colliery near Arnot, Middelburg District, Mpumalanga Province


Archaetnos cc was requested by Mafube Coal Mining (Pty) Ltd, to carry out the rescue of an exposed infant burial, exposed by expanded mining operations on the farm Springboklaagte 416 JS near Arnot in the Middelburg District, Mpumalanga. This was done in conjunction with AVBOB Middelburg. A total of 82 graves, including 15 graves of stillborn children and infants from relocated homesteads, were investigated and relocated from the area during March, April and October 2009. This burial, although searched for at the time, could not be located and it was thought that no remains were still present in the area.

However, during May 2012, with mining operations moving into the area where these burials were previously located (close to relocated homesteads), a machine operator accidentally exposed the burial and alerted mine officials. They then called in Archaetnos and Avbob to investigate. The site was demarcated and left alone until the family (Skhosana) could be contacted and a suitable day be scheduled for the exhumation and relocation. As the burial was younger than 60 years of age and known, no SAHRA permit was required. The work was conducted on the 15th of June 2012.

We believe that the rescue investigation, exhumation and relocation of the exposed burial from the area were conducted successfully and that the mining operations in the area can therefore continue, taking into consideration that more unknown and unmarked graves might be located in the area in the future. The necessary mitigation measures will then have to be implemented.

Report by

A.J. Pelser - Accredited member of ASAPA