NATIONAL NEWS - The Kruger National Park has over 900 heritage sites, including that of the grave of respected leader, Chief Nyongane Shikuvati Mkhabela, which was unveiled last Tuesday.
The chief and his family lived on their land in the Kruger Park long before the park was formed in 1923.
However, park officials at the time wanted Mkhabela and his family off the land, slaughtering 40 of his cattle to force him out of the area.
KNP launched the chief’s grave as a heritage site, and this is part of the park’s Interpretation National Project.
Speaking at the launch, KNP’s Thabo Kgomommu said Mkhabela’s grave would not be the only heritage site in the park and that other sites with other stories of chiefs who had lived in the Kruger would slowly be told and revealed through the Interpretation National Project.
“We need the whole story of the park and to not tell the whole story would be an injustice. We need places where we can learn about the important stories of the people who lived in the park and we need to tell these stories from the people’s point of view,” Kgomommu said.
“We here at the KNP are committed to ensuring these stories are well-preserved and well-told,” he said.Mkhabela was born in the late 1800s
and lived and farmed land near the Albasini Road near Mestel Dam.
He was a livestock breeder and farmer and his cows produced milk for the oldest camp restaurant in the KNP, Pretoriuskop.
He was also a reputable councillor and adviser for the first game wardens, James Stevenson-Hamilton and Harry Wolhuter.
Representing the chief’s family was Chisizwe Elliot Mkhabela, 83, who had worked at Pretoriuskop in the 1960s as a chef. Speaking at the launch, Chisizwe said he always knew his grandfather’s grave was inside the park, but he never really knew where it was situated.
“I want to thank the park leadership for all they have done in remembering Chief Nyongane,” said Chisizwe. “Thank you to all who contributed to this memorial. The whole Mkhabela family thanks you,” he said