Residents from Barkly West have complained that illegal diamond miners are digging for diamonds, even if it means that they have to dig up old graves to get to the diamonds. Here are bones sticking out of the ground. Picture: Danie van der Lith
Residents from Barkly West have complained that illegal diamond miners are digging for diamonds, even if it means that they have to dig up old graves to get to the diamonds. Here are bones sticking out of the ground. Picture: Danie van der Lith
Ahuman spine has been exposed, apparently as a result of mining operations on the banks of the Vaal River near Barkly West. Photo: Danie van der Lith
Ahuman spine has been exposed, apparently as a result of mining operations on the banks of the Vaal River near Barkly West. Photo: Danie van der Lith

Barkly West - Human remains have been dug up, apparently as a result of mining operations on the banks of the Vaal River.

Members of the community discovered several bones that have been exposed close to a mining site that runs through the Brak township near Barkly West.

They also claimed that a bag of bones was dumped into the river and pointed out a skeleton foot that was recently found sticking out of the ground.

Officials from the Frances Baard and Dikgatlong municipalities visited the area on Monday.

One elderly resident stated that the skeleton was exposed as a result of mining activities.

“Huge disrespect has been shown towards my ancestors, who were buried there. Miners do not care as long as they can find the diamonds. I know exactly where the Kimberlite pipes are situated, but I will never tell anyone because the land has never been rehabilitated and the locals have never benefited from the riches.”

Rachel Bloem added that her great grandmother was buried at the site. “We used to swim and play here where miners have now destroyed the land.”

Isaac Shabanga said that the community had complained about the disturbed graves during recent protests.

“Nothing has been done, while the fence around the cemetery has been stolen. At least three mining companies have arrived on site in the past few years and left without rehabilitating the land.”

Farmer Hendrik Barends indicated that he had lost livestock that had fallen into the mining pits that were now filled with water.

“Who do I complain to when my sheep and cattle drown in the holes? I am only trying to make a meagre living by farming.”

He stated that the inhabitants that used to stay here were relocated to houses in Mataleng.

Head of archaeology at the McGregor Museum, Dr David Morris, who visited the site on Monday said that while mining had taken place very close to the cemetery, the impact on the graves was subject to verification.

“The holes that have been dug require rehabilitation because it poses a danger to people as well as livestock. There is an area on the edge of the cemetery where human skeletal remains, specifically foot bones, and part of a coffin are exposed. This is, however, due to the erosion on the banks of the river.”

He indicated that continued mining in the vicinity would certainly threaten the cemetery.

“We will conduct a further search along the banks of the river to make sure that mining here has not disturbed graves.”

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