From apathy to oblivion? The shameful history of heritage resource management in the Vaal Triangle
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The Vaal Triangle is richly endowed with a prehistory that commenced c. 1.5 million years ago, when a succession of Stone Age cultures flourished in the fertile Vaal-Klip valley in the environs of the modern industrial city of Vereeniging. The numerous stone artefacts scattered throughout the area, attest to these ancient settlements. During the Iron Age, the sandstone outcrops in the valley provided a durable surface for engraving – a manifestation of the burgeoning ability of humankind to give pictorial form to experiences and ideas. Due to the efforts of a few concerned individuals, the prehistoric sites in the Vaal-Klip valley received international acclaim and recognition. In 1943 and 1944, the two most important Stone Age archaeological reserves were officially declared national monuments, followed by the Redan rock engraving site in 1971. Over an extended period of time the two bodies responsible for their maintenance, the local government and the official heritage body of the day, conducted extensive negotiations, but failed to save these sites. With the exception of Redan, all the previously listed rock engraving sites, and the two Stone Age archaeological reserves, have been completely obliterated. Redan has become progressively neglected and abandoned. This paper examines the impasse presently surrounding Redan, and the failure of the relevant bodies, to conserve and sustain the non-renewable prehistoric culture remains of the Vaal Triangle.