Heritage impact assessment report: Sesambos golf course on portion 1 of Zwartberg 72 MR near Swartwater, Limpopo Province


This report contains a heritage impact assessment (HIA) investigation in accordance with the provisions of Sections 38(1) and 38(3) of the National Heritage Resources Act (25/1999) for purposes of authorising the (completed) construction of the Sesambos Golf Course. This HIA forms part of the process of obtaining the necessary environmental authorisations for the project, which comprises a change of land use to provide for this nine-hole golf course. The farm Zwartberg 72 MR is located on the south bank of the Limpopo River, about 9 km north-west of the village of Swartwater in the Limpopo Province.

This report is accompanied by a separate Archaeological Impact Assessment report compiled by Anton Pelser of Archaetnos.

The affected area consists of working (operating) irrigation, grazing and game farms located in a typical Limpopo Valley environment. These farms display heritage features that commonly occur in the area, such as irrigation systems, cultivated fields, game fences, tracks, farmsteads and undeveloped land used for game farming. Farmsteads are clustered close to rivers and main roads and very little else regarding the built environment exists in the interior further away due to the arid natural environment and the circumstance that the region has always been thinly populated. Scatterings of stone artefacts and Iron Age potsherds are relics of earlier human habitation.

As a cultural landscape this environment can be classified as historic farmland and, to a lesser extent, a historic archaeological landscape.

The golf course with its irregular shape is located on the south bank of the Limpopo River and consists of nine fairways and greens, divided by left-over patches of veld with a grass cover and indigenous plants such as sesambos, njala and leadwood, functioning as sand bunkers typical of a golf course. It is in these patches of veld that Stone and Iron Age artefacts were found. Other features on and around the course are an observation deck overlooking the river, a platform for functions (used for the opening of the course on 24 April), a tented camp used by guests and a cluster of brick chalets under construction.

The course has been constructed by the owner of Zwartberg Boerdery, Mr HJ du Plessis, for his guests and for guests of neighbouring game and hunting farms.

The broader study area consists of Arid Sweet Bushveld covering a terrain that gently slopes down towards the Limpopo River. The land surface is soil, sand and gravel with scattered shrubs, trees and veld grass, which had been recently mown. This made the identification of Stone Age artefacts and Iron Age potsherds easy. A large area, apparently infested with sickle-bush, was mechanically cleared when the gold course was laid out.

The intended development comprises the change of land use for golf course purposes and this provided the following ?triggers? for an HIA:

? Development larger than 5000 square meters
? The region is known for its archaeological artefacts
? The development is subject to authorisation through and Environmental Impact Report that includes cultural heritage issues

The general aim of any HIA is to ensure that the needs of socio-economic development are balanced by the needs to preserve significant heritage resources.

The purpose of this report is to identify and assess features of heritage significance, identify possible impacts and propose management measures to mitigate negative impacts. This information must enable the relevant heritage authority to approve the proposed development as required in terms of Section 38 of the NHRA.

Heritage impacts are categorised as:

? Direct or physical impacts, implying alteration or destruction of heritage features within the project boundaries
? Indirect impacts, e.g. restriction of access or visual intrusion concerning the broader environment
? Cumulative impacts that are combinations of the above

Impact can be managed through one or a combination of the following measures:

? Mitigation
? Avoidance
? Compensation
? Enhancement (positive impacts)
? Rehabilitation
? Interpretation
? Memorialisation

Of the above measures, mitigation and interpretation apply.

PREPARED BY RC DE JONG IN ASSOCIATION WITH AJ PELSER (Archaetnos Culture and Cultural Resource Consultants)

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