In caves along the Great Kei River and at the confluence of the White (Cacadu) and Black Kei rivers in rural Eastern Cape, there is a wealth of rock art paintings. They are not well known and are in danger of disappearing altogether.

The rock paintings (parietal art) stretch back in time from the 19th century to perhaps 20 000 years ago, GroundUp reports.

“These paintings are the history of our ancestors,” says Dr Nomalanga Mkhize, historian and anthropologist at Nelson Mandela University.

“Their significance is paramount. These artefacts symbolise a civilisation spanning thousands and thousands of years … They tell San history … and we can learn from their way of life.”

The paintings are not that well known to tourists. There are no guest houses or any tourist signs. People explore on their own.

But the paintings are being defaced says local resident Nyameko Somgede. He showed GroundUp paintings completely obscured with charcoal and smoke residue. Some have been scratched through. Read more