Human remains found

2017-08-16 06:05
Human remains were discovered at the Kitso Manganese Mine by night shift workers on Tuesday, 1 August. Insert: The human skull that was discovered along with bones.Photos: Supplied

Human remains were discovered at the Kitso Manganese Mine by night shift workers on Tuesday, 1 August. Insert: The human skull that was discovered along with bones.Photos: Supplied

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Mining operations at the Kitso Manganese Mine in Lohatlha near Postmasburg are still suspended until further notice after the gruesome discovery of human remains by night shift workers on Tuesday, 1 August.

In support of the suspension, community members picketed outside the mine premises, burning tyres in an effort to stop the loaded logistics truck from leaving the premises on Monday (14/08), following a tip-off that the mine had been given permission to operate on logistics.

Meanwhile, workers have been reporting for duty on a daily basis since the intervention by the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and the South African Heritage Resource Agency (SAHRA).

A geologist was reportedly assigned to the site to conduct a study after the McGregor Museum had intervened by directing the complaint to SAHRA.

A report has to be submitted to the DMR to give the go-ahead for mining operations.

Facebook has been flooded with comments, advice and referrals regarding the matter, as many felt that it was a criminal offence for the whole disturbed area not to have been sealed off pending further investigation.

The workers, who were left traumatised by the discovery, revealed how their efforts of warning management about visible graves on the identified site fell on deaf ears before they were given a clear instruction to dig on the site.

According to them, the response from management was that those had merely been inspection holes.

Their suspicion was triggered by a similar incident a month ago, when a human bone was found on the site.

The workers were frustrated by the light manner in which management treated the matter.

“By then they said it must be a baboon skeleton,” said one angry worker.

“We were left with no other choice but to dig after the instruction had been given, although we saw it as sinister that the night shift had been allocated the job.

“We felt belittled, because we felt guilty of stripping the dignity of our own people who once considered that place their ancestral land. We went ahead, but worked carefully, as we expected to make such a discovery,” said another worker.

According to the worker, management argued that there were no signs of coffins in the ground.

“We were dismissed, even though we tried to remind them that black people used to bury people in skins, of which signs were visible, instead of coffins, like nowadays.

“Some of us cannot even sleep at night after the incident, because it had taken place at night and we were not even sent for counselling.

“After the discovery, we called the foreman and the manager. They just told us to continue digging at another spot. They did not even bother to come and see what was happening.”

Now the community and the workers are clueless as to what is happening, as they accuse mining management of not being transparent.

They want to know whether the mining permit was suspended, as expected in accordance with the Heritage Act.

Out of concern for losing their jobs, if the mine should be stripped of its mining permit, the workers got another shock upon discovery that they were not registered with the Department of Labour.

That, according to them, is amid them witnessing an official from the DMR frequenting the mining company as an act of monitoring the mining operations.

The operations manager of the mine, Hannes Pelser, refused to comment on the matter and referred Express Northern Cape to the DMR and SAHRA.

“I cannot comment on the matter at this stage except that mining operations are suspended until further notice,” said Pelser.

  • No comment was received from the DMR at the time of the newspaper going to print.

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