Save Sibudu

The scene in the photo will change if social housing in put on the canefields to the rightt beside the riverside walk to the Sibudu gorge.

Help us fight this by joining Friends of Sibudu (see top menu for membership form). Help us develop the area for public use and heritage jobs.

View of Sibudu cliff from Tongaat side. Fields on right will be covered with houses

The Ilembe housing zone (green on left) is part of large mixed use development plan

On the border

Sibudu is situated on the border between Ethekwini and Kwa-Dukuza local authorities, and the Ndwedwe tribal trust lands which are South of the river. It is not actually on the land bought up by the developer because it is on the cliff face. The only way of getting to it is by going South of the river and through the village occupied by the Mqwabi people, then wading the river and climbing up the rocks.

For the last 3 years, this development proposal by KDC has been under consideration and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has now been APPROVED bythe kzn provincial government

Objectives of the Wewe Development Project by KDC

•Ensure a sustainable new mixed use area that maximizes
•inclusionary mixed income housing development and economic
•development opportunities at regional and local level;
• Create value by optimizing opportunities between government and
•private sector by including certain partnership arrangements in the
• Use the opportunity to create sustainable BBBEE in the development;
•Support the development vision of the Greater Driefontein
•Development Node as expressed by the KwaDukuza Municipality;
• Support the local area planning initiatives of the authorities at local and provincial level; and
• Make a key contribution to job creation and economic and community growth and development in the area.


Ilembe housing zone is in pink, nearest to Sibudu

AMAFA (kzn heritage body)

Recommended Ilembe housing project should go ahead with two conditions:

1) A higher fence

2) an extra 100 metres be added to the buffer zone, making up 300 metres altogether, to be planted with indigenous trees by the developper

They also passed the request on to national heritage office (SAHRA) that Sibudu should be granted national heritage status, but nothing has happened about this until  April 2015 when SAHRA has nominated Sibudu for UNESCO tentative list for World Heritage. 

Objectors' Arguments

Too many people living nearby will damage the site
•A fence does not deter
•Buffer forest will be cut for firewood
•The excavation is ongoing and the site is valuable for further archaeology training for at least 25 years
•The site deserves World Heritage status. More than 80 scientific papers have been published about it
. A World Heritage site needs education facilities and is a big tourist opportunity which requires more land adjacent to the site
Why can't the low cost houses be put "some place else"? - there is plenty of ex-sugar cane land in this part of kzn
 The place should be developed for HERITAGE and the related jobs, not social housing

Who are the Objectors ?

In 2011 these were:

The directors of archaeology at Sibudu (Prof Lyn Wadley, Prof Nick Conard)

Archaeology Societies of kzn and of South Africa

Overseas Universities who send researchers to Sibudu (Germany, France, U.S.A)

University of Witwatersrand

Director of Pietermaritzburg Museum

From 2015 add:

The Sibudu Trust

Friends of Sibudu

Sinembe contractors(neighbouring farmer)



When will heritage bring money ?

AMAFA expects money to be granted for heritage once the World Heritage Status is gained.But Sibudu missed declaration of World Heritage status because it did not yet have the national staIus.  What is the delay since 2011 ?

Staffing problems in the heritage sector may be the cause - post of Director of AMAFA is currently vacant, and there has been no appointment to a Heritage office post. Post of Director of Archaeology, National, at SAHRA department is also vacant  (June 2014). It takes time to develop the qualifications and skills in archaeology.

The site needs to be purchased by a Trust and then an Environmental Management Plan can be made. Legal and financial processes take time.

Get real about managing the site for heritage

"The range of options for managing and protecting the site should be detailed, along with potential costs and who the responsible parties would be for enforcing/paying for the options, and what permissions would be needed. Such management options should be presented as early on as possible, allowing for the full incorporation of the plan into the EMP, rather than existing as an add-on at the end "  - says ASAPA ( SA professional archaeologists)
This has NOT been done.  So it looks like the houses will be built and occupied before the heritage plans are costed and granted money. The developer will then sell the housing site to the Municipality who will then have to budget for the Management, which might by then include replacing the fence and forest, and employing full time security. 

Involve local people in heritage

Local residents, mainly the Mqwabi people of the Ndwedwe tribal authority, are situated on the access route to this site. Their houses are low density and compatible with a scenic approach to the cliff.

They should be part of the planning for heritage investment. They should gain the revenue and the jobs linked to the heritage development rather than an influx of new inhabitants north of the river.

HIgh density social housing so near such a significant site will spoil the potential for developiing the area for tourism and thus negate the job-creation possible around World heritage site.



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Join the struggle !

If you agree with the aims of the objectors, JOIN Friends of Sibudu by sending the membership form to [email protected] and paying the subscription ( plus donation if you can)  If you live outside South Africa, we will notify you how to pay