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City cemetery grave number pegs dumped

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“Some of the pegs were already sold as scrap metal. Every day we are finding more.”

Otsile Lebakeng holds grave tags which he found while digging in a heap of rubble. Picture: Soraya Crowie

A LARGE number of grave number pegs were discovered by artisanal miners at a dumping site near Boshof Road yesterday.

This follows the cleaning and restoration of Dutoitspan Cemetery by Kimberley Ekapa Mining Joint Venture (KEM-JV) to commemorate Heritage Day.

The miners indicated that since last week they had seen unmarked mining trucks dumping the grave pegs, which were used to identify graves, along with mining material.

“Some of the pegs were already sold as scrap metal. Every day we are finding more.”

Artisanal miner Otsile Lebakeng said he and fellow miner Skilpad Mokale had handed over several grave number pegs to the police on Monday, while more were discovered at the site yesterday.

“While some of the numbers marked on the pegs have faded and the pegs are rusted, many are clearly marked.”

According to the municipal by-laws the removal of the pegs could amount to the desecration of the graves.

The communications manager for KEM-JV, Gert Klopper, stated that a large number of the pegs were redundant.

“They were found on a heap, close to the entrance of the cemetery on August 31, 2017. Those pegs/markers were intended for recycling according to the mine’s waste management procedures. It does, however, appear as if instructions with regards to this were not followed, which is being investigated.

“We are not sure about the value of the pegs as scrap, but it is likely to be nominal, given the total weight and their general condition.

“The project to rehabilitate Dutoitspan Cemetery started more than a year ago, after it had been neglected by the authority responsible for its upkeep for decades.”

Klopper said that most of the discarded pegs could not be re-used.

“They did not display any numbers and were in a very poor condition. Those that could be salvaged were restored and re-used to mark the graves, as these were identified.

“Some of the ovoid pegs were used as replacement pegs for some of those discarded before KEM-JV took over the property where the cemetery is located.”

Klopper pointed out that none of the graves were disturbed when the pegs were removed.

“On the contrary, the objective of the entire project was to rehabilitate the cemetery and restore as many graves as possible to their dignity. No mining is envisaged to ever take place on the site of the cemetery, both for economic and heritage reasons.

“Since alleged wrongdoing has now been reported to the police, we would gladly assist with any investigation.”

The police were unable to confirm whether any cases were under investigation at the time of going to press.