A report on the archaeological investigation of graves on the farm Vlaklaagte 45 IS, impacted on by the Total Coal Dorstfontein mine near Kriel, Mpumalanga Province


Archaetnos cc was requested by TOTAL COAL SOUTH AFRICA (PTY) LIMITED
to carry out the archaeological investigation and exhumation of two graves older than 60 years located on the farm Vlaklaagte 45 IS near Kriel in Mpumalanga. This is on a property where the expansion of coal mining at the Dorstfontein mine is planned.

A survey was conducted in the area by Archaetnos earlier during 2009. It indicated one grave yard consisting of 8 graves on the property. Two of these were older than 60 years. As these are in the way of the proposed conveyor route at the mine, it was recommended that the graves be exhumed and relocated. For this purpose a permit (BG/09/08/002/87) was obtained from the Burial Grounds and Graves Unit (BGG) of the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA).

The project was conducted in conjunction with African Grave Relocation Specialists (AGRS). They also did the necessary social consultation which was needed in order to obtain permission from the families of the deceased. They were also responsible for the exhumation and reburial of the other six graves in the grave yard.

The archaeological investigations at the site commenced during September 2009. Eight graves were exhumed, including the two exhumed by the archaeologist. None of these contained skeletal remains, probably due to the access groundwater inside of the graves. Pieces of coffin wood, corrugated iron sheeting and metal droppers were found inside of each of the graves. Soil samples were taken from both the burials and these were reburied.

It is believed 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.

Report by

Dr. A.C. van Vollenhoven (L.AKAD. S.A.)