Death threats for ac­tivists op­posed to min­ing

Damn­ing re­port highlights dif­fi­cul­ties that com­mu­ni­ties face

Daily Dispatch - - News - SOYISO MALITI soy­i­som@dis­

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.