Families from the Marude Mpandani Village in Vhembe have accused the University of Venda of demolishing ancestral graves to make way for buildings and roads. The respective families claim that they had been relocated from Marude Mpandani, next to Univen. They were moved to Ngovhela and Maungani during the apartheid era in the 1960s. However,  their ancestors’ graves were left behind.

According to the Limpopo Mirror, these families now want the remains of their forefathers to be reburied.

When development for Univen started in 1982, many of these graves had apparently been demolished. But now, they say, more graves have been flattened to pave a road.


Thomas Ndonyana [73], who used to live in this area, is still fuming about his family’s grave site that had allegedly been demolished. Ndonyana says he had only discovered that the graves had been removed to make way for the building of Univen in 1986.

“This is a double blow for my family, who first had been forcefully removed from the area by the apartheid government in the 1960s. We do not even know what happened to the remains of my forefathers,” he told the publication.

Families accuse University of Venda of demolishing their ancestral graves
University of Venda

“I have sleepless nights about this and used to visit the grave site regularly. This portion of the land belonged to my family. I was shocked when I found out that the graves were no longer here,” he said.

 “The gods are very angry. It is only a matter of time before they listen to our prayers and deal with these dirty people.”

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The families have allegedly been given the run around when they enquired as to who was responsible for removing the gravesite. He said they had had numerous discussions with Univen officials on this matter, but that no agreement had been reached.

Univen spokesperson Takalani Dzaga, said they had met with families and requested them to come and identify their ancestral graves. He also denied that the buildings and roads were built on top of the gravesite.