Community leader opposing mining on South Africa’s Wild Coast killed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For nearly a decade the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC), comprised of members of the communities in the area of Xolobeni, have opposed the development of a titanium mine in the sand dunes of the ‘Wild Coast’ of South Africa1. The application to mine the area was submitted by Transworld Energy Minerals (TEM), a subsidiary of the Australian firm Mineral Commodities Ltd (MRC Ltd). Tensions and violence in the area have been escalating since the possibility of TEM mining in the area began. The tensions came to a head on the 22nd March 2016 when the chairperson of the ACC, Sikhosiphi Bazooka Rhadebe, was murdered at his home in front of his wife and son, by two men claiming to be the police.

According to the NGO GroundUp, “This is not the first case of intimidation or violence against those who have opposed mining in the area. The local community have drawn up a memorandum, which documents numerous instances of intimidation and murder and challenges in having the local police take up these cases.”2 Those opposed to the mine are concerned about the destruction of their ancestral lands, pollution of the water and the relocation of communities. They do not see that the jobs created by the mine would be significant enough to warrant the environmental and social damage likely of a mine on this scale.3

Mineral Commodities Ltd. also own a dune mining project on the west coast of South Africa, near Vredendal, (Tormin Minerals Sands) which according to the NGO GroundUp has also been plagued with problems, particularly in relation to labour disputes.4

When contacted by Fin24, Mark Caruso, the Mineral Commodity´s chairperson, said: “I am not in a position to comment with any authority as I am uninformed of any of the facts surrounding this incident … It is tragic that a man has lost his life, regardless of the circumstances. The company is in no way implicated in any form whatsoever in this incident. Statements to the contrary are simply unfounded. This company will not engage in any activity that incites violence.”5

Bazooka’s murder is the first killing of an environmental leader in South Africa, and the resultant battle for the Pondoland region has become an issue taken up by numerous environmental organisations – 82 environmental and human rights organizations from South Africa, and other nations in Africa and Europe, have since issued a joint statement that condemned Bazooka’s murder and called on the national Department of Mineral Resources to suspend its work to review a new titanium mining license application from Mineral Commodities “until there has been a full and independent investigation of Rhadebe’s murder.”6

 

While it is of course true that the murder of Bazooka cannot be directly attributed to the company Mineral Commodities Ltd., it shows the significant tensions that arise from seeking to mine these natural resources and the importance of hearing the voices of the local communities. According to a lawyer at the Legal Resource Centre, Henk Smith, speaking to the Guardian: “the company shies away from meeting the community which as a result, there’ll be little chance of simply starting a process of meetings now. The company is in effect refusing to accept that it’s got to negotiate with the community and are relying on an interpretation of the law in South Africa that they must consult affected people about mitigation of environmental impact and their responsibility goes no further.”7

The South African Chamber of Mines has called on MRC and local partners “ to engage with the different community groupings in the area in a spirit of peace and respect.”8

 

Funds including Mineral Commodities Ltd, according to Onvista.

Investors in Mineral Commodities Ltd, according to Morningstar.

A video by ‘Yes to Life, No to Mining’ summarises the fight for Pondoland here:


  1.  http://city-press.news24.com/Business/xolobeni-on-the-brink-amid-mining-bid-20160327 []
  2. http://www.groundup.org.za/article/suspend-mining-xolobeni-say-leading-health-academics/ []
  3. http://www.fin24.com/Companies/Mining/a-murder-on-wild-coast-escalates-conflict-over-water-land-mining-20160401 []
  4. http://www.groundup.org.za/article/west-coast-mine-boss-must-go-say-staff_3479/ []
  5. http://city-press.news24.com/Business/xolobeni-on-the-brink-amid-mining-bid-20160327 []
  6. http://www.circleofblue.org/2016/water-energy/mining/murder-south-africa-wild-coast-escalates-conflict-water-land-mining/ []
  7. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/25/australian-mining-company-denies-role-in-of-south-african-activist []
  8. http://www.chamberofmines.org.za/industry-news/media-releases/2016 []
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