Sutherland reburial process and other updates

20 September 2019 | Campus Announcement

Dear students and colleagues

This campus announcement aims to inform members of the University of Cape Town (UCT) community about:

1. Update on the Sutherland reburial process

UCT will continue engagements with the relevant stakeholders ahead of the planned reburial of the nine sacred human remains in Sutherland.

The engagements are as a result of, among other things, feedback received in writing from the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) on 12 August 2019. UCT had written to SAHRA formally applying for a reburial permit.

The next engagement will be a meeting with the Stuurman family from the Eastern Cape, which is scheduled to take place in October.

A number of recent engagements included a meeting with representatives of the Stuurman family from the Northern Cape and Western Cape on 21 August. The Eastern Cape representatives could not make it to this meeting.

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.

In light of the broader engagements that are still ongoing, the university has reconsidered the reburial date, initially earmarked for 24 September 2019. The reburial will now take place at a later date, which is yet to be determined and which will be communicated in due course.

2. Inaugural lecture: Professor Collet Dandara

Professor Collet Dandara will present the fifth Vice-Chancellor’s Inaugural Lecture of the year on 25 September 2019. The lecture is titled “Pharmacogenomics and personalising medicines in African populations for quality health: Yet another story of playing catch-up”.

Please note that the lecture will take place at the New Learning Centre Lecture Theatre in the Anatomy Building in the Faculty of Health Sciences, not Lecture Theatre 2 in the Kramer Law Building as previously stated. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

3. Distinguished Teacher Award nominations now open

The Distinguished Teacher Award is the highest accolade awarded to teaching staff at all levels within UCT. Through the award, the university recognises excellent teaching and acknowledges the primary place of teaching and learning in the institution’s work.

Students and academic staff members are invited to submit nominations. All academic staff who have taught at UCT for a minimum of five years are eligible for the award.

Please email nominations to before 10 November 2019.

4. Update on the inclusivity survey

In May this year, the executive asked all UCT staff to take part in a completely anonymous InclusionIndex Inclusivity Survey. Since the conclusion of the survey, a team from Aephoria – the external administrator of the survey – has been hard at work analysing the quantitative data. Their initial findings indicate that the university is doing well in some areas and not as well in others.

These are initial results and need further interrogation to develop appropriate interventions. To explore themes more fully, UCT staff are invited to participate in focus groups and one-on-one interviews during the next few weeks. Attendance is completely voluntary, and anyone can attend – not only staff who completed the questionnaire.

If you would like to volunteer for the focus groups or the one-on-one interviews, please email Aephoria to arrange your participation. As with the quantitative survey, UCT staff will not be facilitating the focus groups or interviews.

5. Interim interdict against UAWU members

Last week there were various interruptions to university operations and student activities on the UCT campus. These interruptions were caused by University and Allied Workers Union (UAWU) members who are not UCT employees. On Tuesday, 17 September 2019, the Labour Court granted an interim interdict against striking UAWU members.

Read the Campus Announcement: Interim interdict against UAWU members.


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UCT Sutherland Reburial

After an archiving audit of the UCT Human Skeletal Collection in 2017, the university discovered that it had 11 skeletons in its collection that were unethically obtained by the institution in the 1920s. The university has acknowledged this past injustice, which forms part of its history. Nine of these individuals were brought to the university in the 1920s from Sutherland in the Northern Cape. UCT is working with the community of Sutherland to return the skeletal remains of these nine individuals to their descendants. An interdisciplinary team of academics from UCT and two international partner institutions have conducted unprecedented scientific studies. This process has enabled the university to provide redress and social justice through science.

On 26 November 2023, remains of the nine individuals were reburied in Sutherland. Read the latest news.

Read about the Sutherland reburial in November 2023

Using archaeology to correct injustice UCT archaeologist Emeritus Associate Professor Simon Hall reflects on his contribution to the repatriation, reburial and restorative justice work done at Kruisrivier. 04 Nov 2019
Restoring dignity through forensic art Kathryn Smith, a South African pursuing a PhD in forensic art in the UK, added her facial reconstruction expertise to the multidisciplinary Sutherland project team. 04 Nov 2019
‘We knew their names’ Ancient DNA analyses have identified nine sets of unethically sourced San and Khoe skeletal remains found in UCT’s archive, paving the way for their repatriation to Sutherland. 04 Nov 2019
Breathing life into history Professor Nigel Pennʼs expertise in the blood-soaked history of the Northern Cape made him a critical roleplayer in a restitution project of historical relevance. 04 Nov 2019

04 Nov 2019

Announcements to the UCT campus community