Canteen Kopje: Cultural Heritage Under Threat
UPDATE APRIL 19: The Northern Cape High Court in Kimberley today has granted a final order, "interdicting mining operations on Erf 91, Barkly West, Northern Cape, which is also known as Portion 9 of Barkly West Commonage 687, Barkly West, Northern Cape.”, which is the location of the Canteen Kopje site.
UPDATE MARCH 19: AN URGENT INTERDICT WAS GRANTED IN THE NORTHERN CAPE HIGH COURT, KIMBERLEY. MINING OPERATIONS AT CANTEEN KOPJE WERE DECLARED UNLAWFUL AND WERE HALTED.
UPDATE MARCH 18: REPORTS FROM BARKLY WEST THAT LARGE SCALE MINING HAS BEGUN. UPDATES WILL BE POSTED AS THEY BECOME AVAILABLE.
Sol Plaatje University students in 2015 (photo M. Chazan).
Plaque marking Canteen Kopje as a Historic Monument (Photo G. Leader)
Animal bones found during 2015 excavation (photo M. Chazan).
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Canteen Kopje is a low rise outside the town of Barkly West in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. It is an archaeological site of national and international significance. On March 16, 2016 illegal mining began on this site under permit from the Department of Mineral Resources but without permit from the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA). Canteen Kopje was declared and gazetted as a protected National Monument in 1948. There is a clearly delineated protected area and all other parts of the site beyond the protected core area have already been destroyed by mining.
In 2015 the Sol Plaatje University began a field school at Canteen Kopje in collaboration with the University of Toronto and the McGregor Museum. This field school provides a unique training opportunity and an opportunity for students to engage with the physical remains of their heritage.
The mining of Canteen Kopje will result in the irreversible destruction of an invaluable cultural and scientific resource and will rob future generations of their proper legacy. Mining a declared Heritage Site also sets a precedent that imperils all South African archaeological sites.