Facebook post sparks row over human remains in Green Point

2019-06-04 21:31
Workers install pipes at a site where human remains were found in Cape Town. (Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp)

Workers install pipes at a site where human remains were found in Cape Town. (Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Claims that a mass Khoi grave was being excavated brought a Green Point construction project to a halt last Tuesday.

A Facebook post on May 27 claimed that UCT was excavating a mass grave of murdered indigenous people, GroundUp reports.

The post includes a photograph of archaeologist Gail Euston-Brown at the construction site on Cobern Street.

The author claimed:

So Skulls have been found in a Mass Grave in Green Point and since the hostile take over during the landing of settlers, our People was brutally MURDERED for trying to escape…the boards stating these violent barbaric behaviour of settlers can be seen on ur way to Green Point…and Green Point Park is a Heritage Site where our People were buried…in fact if u ever dig deep into this whole of ||Hui !Gaeb, u will find burial sites of our Foreparents…THEY SHOULD LEAVE ALL EVIDENCE…UCT must replace all the Remains they have taken out of the Soil

Euston-Brown works part-time for ACO Associates, which advises companies on compliance with environmental and heritage legislation. ACO Associates used to be affiliated to the university but is no longer. UCT is not involved in the project at all.

In January, when city workers began digging a water pipeline on Cobern Street they found human bones. Heritage Western Cape (HWC) was notified and an order was issued to halt further construction.

The City of Cape Town called in ACO principal investigator and archaeologist Tim Hart and asked him to apply for a permit from HWC to supervise further construction work. After consulting with the District Six Museum, the City’s heritage department, and the South African Heritage Resources Agency, Hart applied for the permit, which was signed and issued in May.

When the project resumed, one skeleton and possible parts of another were found on May 24. These remains were left untouched because the water pipe’s route would not have disturbed them.

Two additional skeletons were found a few days later and ACO and the City decided that the water pipeline could not be steered around them. Instead, the remains were to be excavated and placed at Prestwich Memorial, a few streets south of the construction site.

"There are multiple projects that involved the removal of human bones in that particular area - all of which have gone to Prestwich. So, it’s not something that’s out of the ordinary, " Hart told GroundUp. "If anybody wants to put up a structure, lay fibre optic cables, electrical cables, change sewage pipes … one goes through this process of keeping a watch and moving whatever has to be moved and reburying what can be reburied."

Euston-Brown was monitoring the site last Tuesday when she was approached by three women. She said that they identified themselves only as "Khoikhoi" and told her that the project was illegal and must be stopped. "They started shooting questions at me," she said. "They got quite aggro."

"Somebody got excited and said the wrong thing"

The women demanded to see the bodies, claiming that they were their ancestors and could not be dug up, according to Euston-Brown.

"I wasn’t sure how to respond. I was very angry at first," she said.

Hart, who was not on site, told his colleague to pack her belongings and leave the site. HWC ordered that construction be halted until further notice.

"Everything was misunderstood and out of context. Somebody got excited and said the wrong thing," Hart added, referring to the Facebook post.

He said that the bodies had all been buried "in Christian style, in wooden coffins, so they are certainly colonial period burials". Further details about who these people were are known, as no analysis of the remains had yet been conducted, he said.

HWC did not respond to GroundUp’s request for comment.

Hart said ACO had recently declined a request by HWC to meet with representatives of a First Nation advocacy group. He added that that was not part of their job as contractors.

HWC is apparently meeting an advocacy group about the remains on Wednesday.

GroundUp asked Venicia Xoroxloo Williams, the author of the original Facebook post, for comment but did not receive a response. The post has since been deleted.

*Minor corrections were made to this article on the GroundUp site after publication.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    cape town

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.