Protestors arrested at Somkhele mine
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.