A report on the archaeological investigation of a grave yard at Shanduka Colliery on the farm Elandspruit 291 JS, close to Middelburg, Mpumalanga Province


During December 2010, Archaetnos cc was requested by Shanduka Collieries to investigate a number of possible grave sites identified on the mine property. Four of these sites indeed proved to be graves. One of these sites, number 4, was situated in an area where mining is planned for the near future. As a result permission was obtained from SAHRA to have the graves exhumed and reburied.

An extensive process of social consultation was done by the mine and AVBOB Middelburg, the latter 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/12/04/001/86.

The mining area is located on the farm Elandspruit 291 JS. This is close to the town of Middelburg in the Mpumalanga Province.

The archaeological investigations at the site commenced during February 2013. It was believed that the site contained 9 graves, which proofed to be the case. No family members could be identified. None of the graves contained skeletal remains, but one did contain corrugated iron sheeting which was usually placed on top of the mortal remains. All the graves had grave dressing consisting of stones. Only three of them had headstones. 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.SA.)