The Eswatini delegation that attended the Amaswati heritage celebration in the Sekhukhune district in Limpopo, has called on the provincial government to preserve the burial site of about 3000 Swati soldiers who died during the Sekhukhune war in 1879.

The soldiers and some civilians were killed when King Sekhukhune was fighting the British colonialists.

A group of Amaswati from the Dlamini-Maisela royal family in Limpopo joined by the Eswatini delegation, performed rituals at the burial site of Amaswati soldiers who died in the Sekhukhune war over a century ago.

They also asked the ancestors to help to bring about peace in Eswatini.

The graves are not easily recognisable as they are not clearly marked. They are situated where Bokoni Platinum mine used to operate in Atok. The mine closed in 2014.

The traditional leader of the Dlamini-Maisela royal family in the Sekhukhune district, Queen Kanyane Maisela says the site must be declared a heritage site.

“This is the reason why Bokoni mine closed. It was because of this you can move that side and see where they were taking the bones. We approached the provincial heritage agency to register this place for us and then they said because the graves are more than 60 years. This thing is a national property, then our heritage must be registered by the South Africa national heritage resource agency,” says Maisela.

The leader of the Eswatini delegation, Prince Mkhumbi Dlamini says the graves must be preserved.

“We are here from Eswatini to come here in Limpopo to pay our respect to our fallen heroes, Amaswati regiments who fought wars here. We are appealing to the government of this province to respect the grave to support, to cooperate with the Dlamini’s here, the descendants of Mpanzeni so that they preserve this place as a heritage,” says Dlamini.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the Dlamini-Maisela Royal family in Limpopo, Princess Palesa Nkambule says negotiations with the South African National Heritage Resource Agency (SAHRA) have started to declare the burial site a national heritage site.

She says the Agency helped the family to pressure the mine to close down operations in 2014.

“This area has got a very rich and vast history, especially for us the Swazis. It’s actually the SAHRA that eventually helped us because they just continued to mine even though we said there are graves. So, we were grateful that when we asked for assistance, we did get it. That is why today it has been closed since 2014 to date,” Nkambule explains.

The heritage celebration will be a national event between Amaswati in South Africa and the Eswatini counterparts.