Court stops mining at historical site in Northern Cape

2016-04-19 13:37

Kimberley - The Northern Cape High Court has granted a final order stopping mining at Canteen Kopje, a historical and archaeological key point outside Barkly West. 

The McGregor Museum in Kimberley sought an interdict last month after it was discovered that mining was going ahead at Canteen Kopje, which it said was a "vitally important excavation site for archaeologists".

An interim interdict granted on March 19 against the mining company, Jackie M Wesi Mining (Pty) Ltd, gave temporary protection. This had now been made final, the museum said in a statement. 

Canteen Kopje is the country’s oldest dated archaeological site. Together with the heritage of communities still living in the area, it boasts a Stone Age history stretching back some 2.3 million years. 

The mining that was allowed to go ahead had left a gaping hole in the middle of the site. Artefacts were strewn across the damaged surface.

"This interdict upholds the provisions of the National Heritage Resources Act and the procedures it requires. We came perilously close to discrediting of authorities and laws, which would have set a dangerous precedent for South African heritage as a whole," said Professor David Morris, Head of Archaeology at the McGregor Museum.

A second legal process was underway, where the museum and the Wits and Sol Plaatje universities wanted a review of the Department of Mineral Resources' decision to grant a mining permit over a heritage site.

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