A construction worker unearthed human remains in Cobern Street, Green Point. Photo: Dominic Adriaanse
A construction worker unearthed human remains in Cobern Street, Green Point. Photo: Dominic Adriaanse

Activists demand a say in decision on skeletons found in Green Point

By Dominic Adriaanse Time of article published May 30, 2019

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Cape Town – Indigenous activists demonstrated at a construction site in Cobern Street, Green Point, where workers unearthed human remains.

First People’s activist Tara “Taras” Weinberg said at the demonstration yesterday that the organisation wanted to be included in the excavation process and consulted on where the skeletons would be taken.

The site, where at least two skeletons were found on Tuesday, is known as the “Gallows Hill”, where indigenous people were buried, not out of choice, during colonial times.

“This is a continuation of neo- colonialism, where our people who were dumped in mass graves like dogs continue to be disrespected in death. We are here to say that we will be heard. Our people are being taken who knows where and for what purpose,” said Weinberg.

She said First People was excluded from the process and denied the right to provide burial rituals for the interred bodies.

Heritage Western Cape (HWC) permitted construction at the site on condition it was monitored by an archaeologist.

Weinberg said the organisation was willing to engage with HWC.

The chief executive, Dr Mxolisi Dlamuka, said that in 2015 HWC was delegated by the SA Heritage Resources Authority (Sahra) to manage burial ground and graves in terms of the National Heritage Resources Act.

“Prior to this point, applications were the jurisdiction of the national heritage resources agency, Sahra.

“Decisions were not made by HWC prior to the delegation of the section to HWC.

‘‘The discovery of human skeletal remains in Prestwich in 2003 resulted in an appeal that went to the national minister of arts and culture.

“The outcome of the appeal in 2004 required that burials in the Green Point area be reinterred at the ossuary in Green Point.

“This has been the protocol since the ministerial decision.”

Dlamuka said the HWC was willing to engage with any interested and affected parties to find a lasting solution in the best interest of heritage.

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