Fam­ily at war over mine riches

Feud over prospect­ing rights

Saturday Star - - NEWS - MARK OLALDE

AF­TER a years-long fa­mil­ial dis­pute over land and min­ing rights near Rusten­burg, a group of rel­a­tives have no clo­sure over who owns their fam­ily’s land – and who has ac­cess to the mil­lions of rand of chrome un­der­neath.

In a case brought to the Satur­day Star by the non-profit Cor­rup­tion Watch, con­flict con­tin­ues over a ti­tle deed signed by five men in 1921.

Court doc­u­ments show the farm has held of­fi­cial leases with min­ing com­pa­nies since 1989. Un­til sev­eral years ago, Xs­trata South Africa – which merged with Glen­core in 2013 – mined the farm. “We aban­doned that por­tion of the right com­pris­ing the mine as it was un­eco­nom­i­cal to mine,” said Glen­core spokesper­son Shamiela Let­soalo.

In a let­ter sent by Glen­core in 2013 and stamped by the Depart­ment of Min­eral Re­sources (DMR), the group an­nounced its aban­don­ment of the area.

The let­ter said fur­ther mat­ters re­gard­ing the land should be re­ferred to the Ku­mamo Trust, a group set up by third and fourth-gen­er­a­tion de­scen­dants of the five orig­i­nal ti­tledeed hold­ers with the goal of clar­i­fy­ing land own­er­ship.

Ku­mamo does not hold the rights to the land as the group is at­tempt­ing to trans­fer them.

Trus­tee Nora Mfe­leng said the con­flict be­gan over a fam­ily mem­ber, Cor­nelius Mol­wana, and his han­dling of roy­al­ties paid by Xs­trata to people with a claim to the orig­i­nal ti­tle deed.

“The fight started there with our roy­al­ties when we wanted to know about them… how this money is be­ing in­vested,” she said.

When Xs­trata fin­ished min­ing, Mol­wana ap­plied for prospect­ing rights with­out the fam­ily mem­bers in­volved in Ku­mamo.

A Pro­mo­tion of Ac­cess to In­for­ma­tion Act re­quest sent to the DMR found that Mol­wana, through Moko­tudi Min­ing, where he is a direc­tor, ap­plied to prospect on the farm the ex­act day in 2012 that Xs­trata ap­plied to aban­don its mine.

Mfe­leng and oth­ers in­volved al­leged an out of court set­tle­ment of a 2009 case Mol­wana brought against Xs­trata in­volved a fi­nan­cial agree­ment and led to col­lu­sion.

Glen­core spokesper­son Let­soalo dis­puted this claim, say­ing: “No pay­ments were made to any of Moko­tudi Min­ing’s directors.”

When the Ku­mamo trustees learnt Mol­wana had ap­plied for a prospect­ing right, they ap­pealed his ap­pli­ca­tion and con­tinue to wait for a de­ci­sion from the depart­ment.

The trustees launched their own ap­pli­ca­tion un­der sec­tion 104 of the Min­eral and Pe­tro­leum Re­sources Devel­op­ment Act, which gives pref­er­ence to ap­pli­cants if “the right shall be used to con­trib­ute to­wards the devel­op­ment and the so­cial up­lift­ment of the community”.

Moko­tudi Min­ing was granted the prospect­ing right to take bulk sam­ples.

Interested and af­fected par­ties needed to reg­is­ter by De­cem­ber last year to be in­volved in the process.

Mol­wana of­fered Mfe­leng and other fam­ily mem­bers the chance to join Moko­tudi Min­ing’s right, but they re­fused due to his se­crecy.

Amanda Shivamba re­searches po­ten­tial cor­rup­tion in min­ing as part of Cor­rup­tion Watch’s “min­ing for sus­tain­able devel­op­ment” pro­gramme.

“From the act as well as the Min­ing Char­ter, it’s sup­posed to carry a lot of weight,” she said of Ku­mamo’s sec­tion 104 ap­pli­ca­tion.

But Mol­wana said Moko­tudi Min­ing earned the prospect­ing right sim­ply be­cause he fol­lowed cor­rect ap­pli­ca­tion pro­ce­dures more closely than Ku­mamo.

“You have to com­ply with leg­is­la­tion. You can­not try to jump from one ac­tiv­ity to an­other,” Mol­wana said, be­fore threat­en­ing lit­i­ga­tion against the news­pa­per.

Community el­der Shi­mankane Joseph Maleka, a grand­child of one of the orig­i­nal deed hold­ers, filed an af­fi­davit in which he claimed that two people, in­clud­ing Mol­wana, were in­cor­rectly us­ing his name in sup­port of their bids for min­ing li­cences.

“(Mol­wana) also be­trayed me by mak­ing me sign doc­u­ments to sup­port a min­ing li­cence ap­pli­ca­tion by Moko­tudi Min­ing and there­after also dis­ap­peared,” Maleka al­leged.

Shivamba said the DMR’s on­line por­tal for per­mit ap­pli­ca­tions some­times al­lows com­pet­ing ap­pli­ca­tions, such as in this case, that must be rec­ti­fied through ei­ther ne­go­ti­a­tions or court.

“We have to take the DMR to court and we have to take Cor­nelius to court to stop him from do­ing any­thing pend­ing the out­come of this ap­peal,” said Kgaugelo Baloyi, the Ku­mamo Trust’s at­tor­ney.

Cor­rup­tion Watch is an NGO launched in 2012 to en­cour­age and en­able the pub­lic to pre­vent, re­port and com­bat cor­rup­tion in South Africa. It is con­cerned with the abuse of pub­lic re­sources or pub­lic power for per­sonal gain. To re­port any form of cor­rup­tion, call Cor­rup­tion Watch on 011 242 3900 or e-mail: info@ cor­rup­tion­watch.org.za

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.