A report on the archaeological investigation of graves on the farm Kleinkopje 15 IS, impacted on by the Douglas Colliery/DMO project near Witbank, Mpumalanga Province
Archaetnos cc was requested by BHP BILLITON ENERGY COAL SA LIMITED
to carry out the archaeological investigation and exhumation of a number of unknown graves located on the farm Kleinkopje 15 IS near Witbank in Mpumalanga. Graves were exhumed and relocated from this site during 2007, and a survey conducted in the area during 2008 indicated that a few previously unknown graves might be present on the site. Subsequently, Archaetnos recommended that a number of test trenches be dug around the periphery of the old cemetery to ensure that no graves are present when mining operations commence in the area. Discussions with the Mnguni family, whose graves were removed from the site previously, indicated that at least 7 burials, of children/infants might still be present. All these graves were unmarked, and they indicated the approximate position of each. The project was conducted in conjunction with Selala Funerals in Witbank.
After a permit was obtained from SAHRA, archaeological investigations at the site commenced during November 2008 for one day. Of the seven graves, only one contained skeletal remains, while two others contained coffin wood, corrugated iron sheeting and clothing fragments. No remains were recovered from any of the other burials. Soil samples were taken from the burials that contained no remains, and these were reburied.
We believe that the archaeological investigation, exhumation and relocation of the graves from the site were conducted successfully and that the mining operations in the area can continue.
A.J. Pelser & A.C. van Vollenhoven