Public asked to comment on reburial of centuries-old remains discovered in Simon’s Town

Simon’s Town Museum. Picture: Simon’s Town Museum/Facebook

Simon’s Town Museum. Picture: Simon’s Town Museum/Facebook

Published Aug 22, 2023


Cape Town - The Western Cape government will soon be concluding its public consultation process over the reburial of human remains housed at the Simon’s Town Museum, while a public meeting is expected to take place over the weekend.

The remains, which are not part of the museum’s collection, consists of a Khoi or San skull confirmed by UCT, and several other partial skeletons which may be of European origins (unconfirmed).

A public notice by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, undertaking the public consultation process, says the remains have been housed at the museum “for some time”.

The public consultation process opened on July 26, and will conclude on August 26.

Simon’s Town Museum manager Cathy Salter-Jansen said the remains were of two groups – one a skull dating back 2 000 years, the other believed to be of several adults found during the construction of the magistrate’s court in Simon’s Town in 1978.

The department said the gravestone of a VOC official was found in the same area, which indicated that there was possibly an old burial ground in that area, in the latter group.

Salter-Jansen said there were no complete skeletons.

“The area was built centuries ago, so the graves were disturbed a very long time ago, before the magistrate’s court itself was built,” Salter-Jansen said.

“The Khoisan skull was found in the dune sand above Windmill Beach, but below the golf course. The skull was found long after the golf course was built, and was not found on the course itself.

“The skull was found in 1978, after a golfer went down below the course, just above the beach, to look for a lost ball,” he said.

The skull was found buried in an old shell midden, below the golf course.

“The public meeting is to gauge how the community would like to see both groups of remains reburied, and to establish if they want a forensic investigation, to find out the potential cultural identity of those from the magistrate’s court. This information would inform the reburial ceremony/ceremonies,” he said.

Any information that could be used to provide insight on the remains and assist in a dignified reburial can be submitted in writing to Kumresh.Chetty@ on or before August 26.

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