Grave robbers have taken a front-end loader into a British war cemetery near Newcastle and gouged at graves and destroyed headstones. It is suspected they were looking for treasure.
The damage was discovered by Amafa/Heritage staff last week at Skuinshoogte, site of a battle of the First Anglo/Boer War.
The vehicle’s tracks could be followed both ways through the long grass but disappeared when they reached the road. The front-end loader forced its way through the surrounding stone wall.
Damage to the gravestones was severe, and graves had been gouged at, but there was no sign of human bones having been unearthed.
“We presume this was another attempt to find treasure,” Mr James van Vuuren, Head of Support Services at Amafa, said today. “There is a widely-held belief that military cemeteries contain treasure and it is becoming a serious problem in various parts of the province. But this is the first time we have experienced mechanised grave-robbing.”
The police are investigating and estimates of the damage are being compiled.