Due to lime build-up, James and his wife Susan Pila attempt to repair the blocked water pipes running adjacent to their plot. The Pilas were relocated in 2001 along with 7 000 other residents of Ga-Pila village, to make way for the expansion of RPM Mogalakwena Section Platinum Mine’s Sandsloot 236 KR open pit. The community were moved to Sterkwater and paid R5 000 per family in compensation. In stark contrast to the vast ploughing fields of Sandsloot where they had lived for generations, the only land available for growing crops in Sterkwater is the tiny plots that surround each home. For many, the subsistence farming they had relied on for survival is now no longer a viable option.
James Pila and his wife Susan Kgaugelo Pila, Ga – Pila (Sterkwater), Limpopo, Northern Limb
old Ga-Pila Village, Ga-Masenya, Mapela, Limpopo, Northern Limb
In the dry, acacia-lined Ga-Mashiane cemetery on the outskirts of Ga-Masenya Village lie the relocated ancestral graves of the Ga-Pila community. The epithet “unknown” is engraved across a number of the stark granite tombstones in a graveyard that is showing early signs of dilapidation, while the relocated families of the deceased try to build new lives for themselves fifteen kilometres away in Sterkwater. Unmaintained and left to the elements, the cemetery is a fitting testament to the 7 000 residents relocated from their ancestral land nearly 16 years ago to make way for Anglo Platinum’s Sandsloot 236 KR open pit.
Community members say that no agreement was made with, nor compensation given to, the Ga-Pila families concerning the relocation of the ancestral graves, and they now live an untraversable distance from the loved ones they have left behind, exacerbating feelings of displacement and anguish. Community members say there are numerous communities across the Mapela region facing the very same issue. In an attempt to ease their despair, monetary compensation has been awarded to the families, ranging from R750 to R1000 per grave.
Robala Ka Khutso Mokone – Rest in Peace
Relocated graves, Ga-Mashiane cemetery, Ga-Masenya, Mapela, Limpopo, Northern Limb