South Africa: The Stolen Graves of Langebaan


When the Group Areas Act was enforced in the West Coast village of Langebaan, the coloured and black townspeople lost not only their land and their graveyard, they also lost their main source of income since the rights to the properties included fishing rights. The fisherfolk were left destitute.

Less than 2km from Die Watergat, the Langebaan pub where Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth is alleged to have been involved in a racial incident, lies Marra Street, named after a pioneer in the establishment of the town.

A descendant of the original Marra, Santeo Marra has been involved in a struggle for the past 24 years to reclaim property which belonged to his family in Langebaan. In the 1960s, at the age of six, Santeo's family left Langebaan to settle in Cape Town. They built a home in Athlone but the family returned regularly to the properties in Langebaan. They returned to the main house for holidays and rented out the cottages to the local people, who continued fishing and other work.

In 1966, the area demarcated as Langebaan A was proclaimed an area for occupation and ownership by members of the white group. This area included the property owned by...

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