san rock art

Selling San rock art is illegal – Hawks make an example

Andile Sicetsha - 22.02.2021

A 48-year-old from Port Shepstone was arrested for attempting to sell San rock art on social media.

A 48-year-old will learn the hard way that selling San rock art is frowned upon in South Africa.

San rock art, the soul of South Africa’s heritage

The history of stone-age South Africa is engraved in the caves of our mountainous landscapes. Our ancestors immortalised the state of the times they lived in, in carvings referred to as San rock art today.

Thanks to San rock art, we have a clear idea of what life was like in South Africa, around 73 000 years ago when the vast lands of our country were traversed by the San and Khoi people.

Today, this rock art is protected by heritage laws. Areas where these rock paintings are found — like the popular Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg National Park — are deemed as world heritage sites and a lot of planning and oversight goes into protecting them to educate future generations to come.

Illegal trader nabbed for selling SA heritage

This is why it is highly unadvised that people attempt to sell these rock paintings. One such lesson was taught to a 48-year-old illegal trader from Port Sheptone, KZN.

The suspect lit up on the radar of Hawks’ organised crime unit after he was reported “for illegally trading in an archaeological item.”

According to Hawks spokesperson lieutenant-colonel Philani Nkwalase, the 48-year-old had advertised the sale of the sacred rock art on social media, completely oblivious to the crime he was committing.

“A search warrant was executed on the premises at Montague road in Sea Park which led to the arrest of the suspect in possession of the San Rock Art on Thursday, 18 February 2021,” Lt-Col Nkwalase revealed.

The suspect will appear at the Port Shepstone Magistrate’s Court on Monday for flouting the National Heritage Resources Act 25 of 1999.

Hawks confirmed that the art was recovered and will most probably be preserved in a protected area.