A second independent heritage impact assessment was conducted at Eskom’s Medupi power plant by Mbofho Consulting and Projects. This assessment found a total of 20 heritage sites, which included seven graves, at the site of the power plant.
It appears that the first impact assessment that was conducted prior to construction in 2007 only yielded one grave. The grave that was found belonged to a six-year old boy, and his body was exhumed in 2007. The families say they weren’t consulted when the first heritage impact assessment took place before construction began in 2007. Recommendations from the first assessment suggests that more detailed public participation should have been done.
To remedy this, the second phase of the assessment used a community-driven approach, different from the traditional practice of heritage assessments.
“This approach was preferred to dispel the growing public mistrust that researchers may want to hide some evidence,” notes the assessment document. The new process relied on the claimants’ stories and them pointing out the burial sites at the power plant. Twelve claimants were interviewed (two members from each family) and an additional 15 members of the local community were also interviewed.
Eskom says while it accepts the findings of the assessment, it only knew of one grave when construction started in 2007. “From our point of view there’s no definite proof and the reason I say that is because when Eskom was doing the EIA (environmental impact assessment) we made it a point that we get the professionals, as far as archaeologists are concerned, to inspect the place,” said Abram Masango, acting Eskom group executive for Group Capital.