Or­gan­i­sa­tion calls on govt to in­ter­vene

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - NEWS - MUR­RAY SWART STAFF RE­PORTER

AC­TION Aid South Africa (AASA) yes­ter­day called on the North­ern Cape gov­ern­ment to in­ter­vene in or­der to as­sist in find­ing an am­i­ca­ble res­o­lu­tion to on­go­ing ten­sions be­tween the Kim­ber­ley Ekapa Min­ing Joint Ven­ture (KEM-JV) and hun­dreds of ar­ti­sanal min­ers cur­rently op­er­at­ing just out­side the city.

In a state­ment is­sued by the AASA yes­ter­day, the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s spokesper­son, Christo­pher Rut­ledge, said that while the ar­ti­sanal min­ers ap­peared to have been go­ing out of their way to en­sure an am­i­ca­ble out­come, lit­tle as­sis­tance ap­peared to be com­ing from the Of­fice of Premier, Sylvia Lu­cas, nor the De­part­ment of Min­eral Re­sources (DMR).

“Af­ter a num­ber of meet­ings, the premier’s of­fice, to­gether with the DMR and Ekapa, of­fered to fa­cil­i­tate a per­mit ap­pli­ca­tion for the min­ers on a plot of land iden­ti­fied by the DMR,” said Rut­ledge. “The agree­ment was pre­sented by the premier’s le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive and stated that KEM-JV agreed to pro­vide fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to the in­for­mal minework­ers to ap­ply for min­ing rights.

“How­ever, this was sub­ject to the area to be mined be­ing vi­able and prof­itable for prospect­ing.”

Rut­ledge stated that Tues­day’s evic­tion of the min­ers was il­le­gal, ac­cord­ing to their le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Jo­han Loren­zen of Richard Spoor At­tor­neys.

“Given that the premier’s of­fice, the DMR and Ekapa were ne­go­ti­at­ing with us and the in­for­mal min­ers in what we be­lieved to be good faith, we find that this sud­den turn to il­le­gal and vi­o­lent ac­tions to deny cit­i­zens their right to work and feed their fam­i­lies, raises se­ri­ous ques­tions about the in­tegrity of th­ese of­fice bear­ers.

“The in­for­mal min­ers have con­sis­tently been the ones ask­ing the min­is­ter, the DMR and the premier to as­sist them in reg­u­lar­is­ing and le­gal­is­ing their ef­forts to feed their fam­i­lies. Now they find them­selves not only with­out op­tions to feed their fam­i­lies, but also be­trayed by the very in­sti­tu­tions which should not only up­hold the law but also be the bas­tions of in­tegrity and pro­tect their rights.”

Spokesper­son for the premier’s of­fice, Bron­wyn Thomas-Abra­hams, con­firmed that staff had met with the var­i­ous role-play­ers on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions, adding that re­solv­ing the mat­ter was an on­go­ing process.

“The Of­fice of the Premier can con­firm that, dur­ing April this year, the ar­ti­sanal min­ers sub­mit­ted a mem­o­ran­dum of con­cerns to the premier. On the ba­sis of this mem­o­ran­dum, the premier tasked le­gal ser­vices in her of­fice to look into the mat­ter.

“Af­ter our ini­tial meet­ing with the ar­ti­sanal min­ers, meet­ings were set up with other stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing the pro­vin­cial and na­tional de­part­ments, min­ing houses and law en­force­ment agen­cies.”

She said that the pur­pose of th­ese ses­sions were to me­di­ate what­ever dif­fer­ences ex­isted be­tween par­ties. “The mat­ter is on­go­ing and at this stage, in the in­ter­est of all par­ties in­volved, we are not at lib­erty to dis­close de­tails of the in­ter­ac­tions.”

The DMR failed to com­ment.

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