About the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site

The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site area consists of a core area and a buffer zone, which make up an area of approximately 52000 hectares, and is a protected area as per current legislation.

The Cradle area is entirely within the boundaries of the Magliesberg Biosphere Reserve, and both the Cradle of Humankind and the Magliesberg Biosphere Reserve are inscribed at United Nations Education and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The South African government is signature to a number of international conventions related to climate change and protection of natural resources, which impact on the Cradle area.

The Cradle area is underpinned by dolomite and creates a constant risk of subsidence and sinkholes in the area. This dolomite structure requires specific processes by all residents to mitigate possibilities of subsidence and sinkholes from occurring.

An important further restriction that exists in some of the areas of the Cradle are Biodiversity sensitive areas which contain red data species and further restrict what can be done in those areas. For example one is that the moving of rocks is prohibited.

Due to the dolomite, there are a number of cave systems in the area, for example Sterkfontein Caves and Wonder Caves to name two. The full extent of the numerous cave systems is unknown but there is some opinions that they are possibly all interlinked underground.

Cradle Boundaries as proclaimed

8th December 2007

Cradle Boundaries as proclaimed 8 December 2007

Legislated Acts

The following are some of, but not limited to, Legislated Acts which apply to the Cradle area:

  • National Water Act,1998 (Act No. 36 of 1998)
  • Physical Planning Act, 1967 (Act No. 88 of 1967)
  • National Heritage Resources Act, 1999 (Act No. 25 of 1999)
  • World Heritage Convention Act, 1999 (Act No. 49 of 1999)
  • National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998) (NEMA)
  • National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act No. 10 of 2004) (NEMBA)
  • National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act, 2003 (Act No. 57 of 2003) (NEM:PAA)
  • National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008 (Act No. 59 of 2008) (NEM:WA)
  • Disaster Management Act, 2000 (Act No. 57 of 2000)
  • Disaster Management Amendment Act, 2015 (Act No. 16 of 2015)
  • Extension of Security of Tenure Act, 1997 (Act No. 62 of 1997)
  • Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act, 2013 (Act No. 16 of 2013)
  • 2011 Mogale City Spatial Development Framework
  • West Rand District Municipality (WRDM) and Mogale City Local Municipality (MCLM) by laws specifically related to dolomitic areas - requirements before construction as well as ways to mitigate possible issues with structures after construction.

General Guidelines

As far as new developments are concerned the following needs to be noted for areas underpinned by dolomite - below are some extracts from the Mogale City Local Municipality - Department: Integrated Environmental Management (MCLM DIEM):

• In the event that any new building structures are to be developed, a geo-technical investigation / opinion must therefore be obtained from a qualified Geologist who is registered with the Council for Geo-sciences. The said opinion / report must be availed to this office for review and comments (MCLM DIEM);

• Over and above compliance to relevant SANS Codes for development & construction on dolomite (i.e. SANS 1936-1; SANS 1936-2; SANS 1936-3; SANS 1936-4; SANS 633), the following conditions (as outlined in The Guidelines for Consultants: APPROPRIATE DEVELOPMENT OF INFRASTRUCTURE ON DOLOMITE, from Department of Public Works, August 2004.) shall be applicable to all land underlain by dolomite:

Section states that when designing infrastructure on dolomitic land the following must be avoided:

  • gardens within 5m of buildings
  • construction of buildings or services over natural watercourses
  • construction of buildings over wet services
  • creating unlined rerouting of natural drainage paths
  • concentration or disposal of storm water onto high risk land
  • using rigid, short length piping (promote long, un-jointed, flexible piping)
  • subsurface water storage tanks
  • disturbance of surface soil whenever feasible (ensure disturbed areas are properly compacted and reinstated)
  • boreholes for water abstraction

Reference is made to Provincial Gazette, dated 30 April 2015 (Gazette Number 152), in which the following WRDM By-laws of relevance to MCLM were published:

• Local Government Municipal Systems Act (32/2000): West Rand District Municipality: Civil Contingencies By-law

• Local Government Municipal Systems Act (32/2000): Disaster management development risk management By-law

• Your attention is in particular drawn to relevant statutory requirements applicable for MCLM developments & SDPs on land affected by dolomites in term of the Disaster management development risk management By-law (Part 4 – Prohibitions)


(1) No municipality may consider or approve any Site Development Plan or building plan without confirming that a dolomite safety clearance certificate has been issued by the head of disaster management or his/her delegated manager.

(2) No developer may attempt to submit or to obtain approval, including provisional approval of a Site Development Plan or building plan, without having obtained the required dolomite safety clearance certificate.

(3) No municipal policy or by-law relating to development may supersede or purport to supersede the requirements of this by-law.

Additionally, the Cradle area is listed in the Flight Restrictions Over National Parks And World Heritage Sites (Protected Areas Act 57 of 2003 - section 47(1) of the Act), which require a clearance of at least 2 500 FT above the highest point in a Special Nature Reserve, National Park or World Heritage Site.