Miners not deterred

2018-10-03 06:00
It is work as usual for artisanal miners at the clearing at Green Street in West End, Kimberley, after the discovery of skeletal remains on Heritage Day.Photos: Boipelo Mere

It is work as usual for artisanal miners at the clearing at Green Street in West End, Kimberley, after the discovery of skeletal remains on Heritage Day.Photos: Boipelo Mere

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“We are not going anywhere. The guy (remains) was removed and they cannot stop us, after they had ripped our forefathers off when they kept the riches to themselves. We have to earn a living, and where can we find a job at this age?”

This was expressed by an adamant Tiisetso Meaho (40), artisanal miner, in response to whether they would stop digging for diamonds on the spot where skeletal remains were found on Heritage Day, 24 September.

The artisanal miners at the Green Street clearing in West End say it was never communicated to them that they should stop working there after the skeletal remains were removed for investigation by the state pathologist.

The remains, according to the McGregor Museum’s findings, could be in the vicinity of a century old. Dr David Morris, head of archaeology at the museum and extraordinary professor, revealed that there was no clear evidence of a formal burial on the scene, leaving very little to be deduced at this stage.

He explained that the spot where the discovery was made, did not appear to be part of a burial ground and that it seemed to be an isolated find.

“We cannot even tell at this stage if it is a formal grave,” said Morris.

“They (the remains) appear to come from the base of a layer of mining ‘floors’ debris and below a level at which foundations of long since demolished houses can be seen,” elaborated Morris.

The results of the findings of the South African Police Service (SAPS) are still pending.

Morris clarified the incident would only become a matter to be managed by the South African Heritage Resources Agency if the SAPS could rule out recent foul play and conclude the remains are older than 60 years and are from outside a formal burial ground.

“Further archaeological and physical anthropological work could tell us more about the bones and how they were buried at that place.”

Morris once more raised concerns of compliance to heritage legislation by the artisanal miners with regard to impact assessments.

“We noticed that they are digging among the remains of old house foundations, which should not be disturbed except in terms of a process stipulated in the National Heritage Resources Act of 1999.”

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