The University of Cape Town (UCT) has postponed the reburial of human remains it had reportedly unethically obtained in Sutherland.
“The reburial will now take place at a later date, which is yet to be determined and which will be communicated in due course,” the university said, according to News24.
The skeletons was initially meant to be moved this Tuesday.
Remains that were in UCT possession were flagged as being unethically obtained in October 2018, when a curator conducted an archive audit.
UCT’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said that the nine skeletons were obtained from a single farm in Sutherland, in the Northern Cape. The skeletons appeared to have been removed by the owner of the farm in the 1920s and were sent to UCT.
“These Khoisan people had been captured and forced to work as indentured labourers on the farm,” she said. “There is no evidence that UCT staff did any research with these skeletons, although we cannot confirm that they remained undisturbed in the collection.”
This spurned an investigation into how to properly return the skeletons to their place of origin. The university did this by consulting and meeting with the descendants of the skeletons.
“A cultural and traditional exchange programme was held in Sutherland from 31 July to 2 August with participation by the family members; community leaders, including the local municipality; and both the primary and high schools. The exchange sessions were facilitated by Western Cape and Northern Cape traditional leaders,” the university said.