A report on the archaeological investigation of grave yard number 11 on the farm Welstand 55 IS, impacted on by the Total Coal Dorstfontein Mine near Kriel, Mpumalanga Province


During the moving of ground at a borrow pit at the Dorstfontein Mine, two graves were exposed. As recommended in earlier HIA’s done at the mine, an Archaeologist was immediately contacted to investigate the find. This assessment was done by Archaetnos. The Dorstfontein mine is located close to the town of Kriel in the Mpumalanga Province. The graves are on the farm Welstand 55 IS.

The graves were exposed in area where no indication of graves is visible on top of the ground. However, on close inspection, some depressions indicate that graves might have been present here and that it may have been removed previously. The site however is not any of those exhumed by African Grave Relocation Specialists and Archaetnos during 2009 and 2010.

The mine indicated that they will be able to use another area for a borrow pit. It was therefore recommended that the two graves be removed and the mortal remains be reburied at Thubelihle as was the case with other graves from the mine. The area, including the depressions, will then be fenced in to prevent any further disturbance.

This was approved by the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA). No social consultation was needed as an extensive process, followed during 2008/9, did not identify this site. For this purpose the existing permit (BG/08/12/001/87) obtained from the Burial Grounds and Graves Unit (BGG) of the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) was used.

The project was conducted in conjunction with African Grave Relocation Specialists (AGRS). The archaeological investigations at the site commenced during September 2010. Only one of the two graves contained skeletal remains, but the other one had remains of coffin wood, clothing and other minor associations. A soil sample was taken from this burial and that was reburied.

It is believed that the archaeological investigation, exhumation and relocation of the graves from the site were conducted successfully and that the fencing in of the site would assist in minimizing similar occurrences.

Report by

Dr. A.C. van Vollenhoven (L.AKAD. S.A.) & Anton J. Pelser