South Africa: Let the Bones Speak - Historical Mass Grave At Simon's Town Is Shrouded in Secrecy


September is Heritage Month in South Africa, a young democracy coming to terms with a violent history of slavery, dispossession and oppression. Which is why the discovery of a possibly 300-year-old mass grave at the site of a proposed luxury development in Simon's Town should create interest and enthusiasm, rather than defensiveness and evasion.

It so happens that the sash window on the first floor of the home of Saber and Razia Hoosen provides a bird's-eye view of Erf 4995, a 1,958m² patch of vacant land on the corner of Waterfall and Palace Hill roads in Simon's Town.

From the window, the Hoosens - whose family have lived in the area since the late 1800s - also have a broader view of this corner of False Bay, home to the SA Navy.

On a clear day, yachts and boats drift by in the basin. In spring, southern right whales frolic in the deep waters. Tourists flock to the little village with its "Victorian-style" architecture.

It is a developer's dream.

Which is probably why Michael Bester snapped up the prime patch of land in 2004 for R3.5-million. As far back as 2006, Bester's proposal, as submitted to the Simon's Town Architectural...

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