Ms Azwitamisi Tshiviela Netswera from Khubvi village breaks big rocks down into small pieces by burning them with wood and old tyres.

Netswera uses old, traditional methods to clear land and crush rocks


Ms Azwitamisi Tshiviela Netswera, a middle-aged woman from Khubvi village, does not let anything stand in her way when she sets her heart on something. On Monday, 6 November, she was seen burning large rocks to break them down, with the intention of clearing the land next to her house for planting her own maize crop.

Onlookers watched with fascination as Netswera stoked a large fire, using additional tyres and wood to burn the rocks until they began to break down into small pieces.

When asked why she used this method, she explained that she lacked the funds to hire tractors to clear the rocks from her small plot of land. Years ago, she witnessed some elders in Tshidimbini village using this primitive yet cost-effective method to break down big rocks, so she decided to do the same. “Even my land was filled with rocks and stones when I purchased it. I had to use the same method before I could build my house. It is a cheap but labour-intensive process as you need to collect firewood and old car tyres.”

Netswera mentioned that her children did not initially understand why she had bought land in such a rocky spot. “Now they realise that it is easier and more cost-effective to do things the African way,” she said.

Meanwhile, traditional healer and provincial tour guide Mashudu Dima explained that Africans used traditional medicines and firewood in the past when clearing rocks from their traditional land for agriculture. “We used our own medicine to treat large rocks and used firewood to break them into pieces. However, when Europeans colonised us, they also altered our way of life. We used mbwedi to extract platinum and other precious metals.”

Dima added that Africans also employed traditional medicine to open their own mines and extract gold, which they sold to Europeans and other African countries. “I am pleased that Netswera is reviving the old method of clearing rocks without resorting to dangerous explosives like dynamite, which pose risks to human beings,” he said.



Date:12 November 2023

By: Victor Mukwevho

Victor Mukwevho Ne-vumbani joined the Mirror during it's inception in 1990. He joined the SABC newsroom in 1995, and was known by  listeners as "A u fhedzisela ari". He was a news editor for The Tembisan Newspaper from 2007 to 2015. He rejoined the Limpopo Mirror newspaper in June 2022 as a freelance journalist.

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