Pro­tes­tors ar­rested at Somkhele mine

Eyethu Baywatch - - NEWS • IZINDABA - Tam­lyn Jolly

IN on­go­ing dis­putes be­tween com­mu­nity mem­bers and Somkhele’s Ten­dele mine, nine men last week ap­peared at KwaMsane Court on charges of public vi­o­lence for hav­ing bar­ri­caded the en­trance to the mine as a protest against a lack of jobs.

As one of a few such in­ci­dents re­cently, the nine were ar­rested the week prior to their court ap­pear­ance and kept in hold­ing cells un­til their ap­pear­ance.

Ac­cord­ing to a joint state­ment is­sued by Ten­dele Min­ing, the Mtu­batuba Mu­nic­i­pal­ity and the Mpukun­y­oni Com­mu­nity Min­ing Fo­rum, the group bar­ri­caded var­i­ous en­trances to the mine, pre­vent­ing ve­hi­cles, em­ploy­ees, con­trac­tors and vis­i­tors from en­ter­ing.

The group re­port­edly forced a truck to tip its coal and pre­vented oth­ers from leav­ing the mine with their loads.

The com­pany said these ac­tions re­sulted in ‘material loss of pro­duc­tion and sub­stan­tial fi­nan­cial losses’.

Shortly after the group was re­leased with a warn­ing, the Global En­vi­ron­men­tal Trust (GET) is­sued a state­ment in which it said the mine had promised the men jobs.

‘These men were re­lo­cated by the mine in 2014 and promised jobs and train­ing which never ma­te­ri­alised.

‘They are all un­em­ployed. The men blocked the en­trance to the mine and de­manded to speak to mine man­age­ment about their griev­ances.

‘The po­lice were called and the men were ar­rested.

‘Later, the wives and moth­ers of these men did the same thing in protest of the ear­lier ar­rests and mine man­age­ment had them ar­rested too.’

The sec­ond group was re­leased on a warn­ing shortly after their ar­rest.

‘In 2007, the mine was de­vel­oped with the ex­plicit un­der­tak­ing that it would at­tempt to em­ploy 150 peo­ple,’ said Ten­dele Min­ing.

‘To­day, with its ser­vice providers, we em­ploy more than 1 200 peo­ple.’

Ten­dele said it sup­ports the group’s free bail and has en­tered into an Al­ter­na­tive Dis­pute Res­o­lu­tion with com­mu­nity ser­vice.

Both cases were re­manded to 7 De­cem­ber.

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