Death threats for activists opposed to mining
Damning report highlights difficulties that communities face
A damning new report published by Human Rights Watch has uncovered that not only were Xolobeni residents barred from protesting against proposed mining activities, but were also victimised and threatened with death.
The report, published on Tuesday, also fingers law enforcement agencies and municipalities as “imposing burdens” on protest organisers by placing legal hurdles in front of them before protests.
Human Rights Watch, environmental justice group groundWork, the Centre for Environmental Rights and Earthjustice all contributed to the report, which also makes numerous recommendations to the energy department, department of co-operative governance & traditional affairs and the Independent Police Directorate.
The report – which details threats and other forms of intimidation in mining-affected communities in Xolobeni, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and the North West – concludes that activism is under attack, especially in cases from miningaffected communities.
Australian company Mineral Commodities Ltd (MCL) started its perilous endeavour to mine the titanium-rich dunes of Xolobeni on the Wild Coast some 16 years ago.
Researchers said MCL and/or directors or employees of other companies had active defamation lawsuits against eight activists Investigative and lawyers in relation to remarks made concerning mines, including Xolobeni.
The research also cites the 2016 killing of anti-mining activist Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe, who led the Amadiba Crisis Committee against MCL’s proposed titanium mining.
The report describes several patterns that have emerged:
● Activists live in fear and receive constant death threats, which are not taken seriously by police.
At least four people have been killed for highlighting the negative impact mining has on the environment and a community’s health.
● The researchers cited restrictive interpretation of laws and social media campaigns, which contributed to an atmosphere of fear.
● The use of brutal force police to crush protests.
The report says municipalities often “imposed burdens on organisers that have no legal basis, making protests difficult and sometimes impossible”.
Alfred Nzo municipality spokesperson Lubabalo Majenge said he had not seen the report and that the municipality had not suppressed or had anything to do with activism in Xolobeni.
He added that the municipality had only “supported the engagement” processes. by
We’re going to have fewer activists globally because of the death rate