|| Xolobeni mining update with Nonhle Mbuthuma, 14 May
|Speakers: Nonhle Mbuthuma
Date: Thursday, 14 2015
Venue: CCS Seminar Room 602, 6th Floor, MTB Tower, Howard College, University of KwaZulu-Natal
MOTHER EARTH: Nonhle Mbuthuma of Amadiba Crisis Committee shows the red sand at Kwanyana Beach near Xolobeni that is at the centre of the dispute Picture: Loyiso Mpalantshane
Nine arrested after strife over Bizana sand mining rights
BONGANI FUZILE on May 11, 2015 in News
Violence in the Bizana area over sand mining rights continued on Friday night.
Police arrested nine people from the Xolobeni area after a late-night incident in which solar panels on houses belonging to people in the pro-mining faction were damaged.
Mbizana police spokesman Captain Mlungisi Matidane confirmed this, saying the violence was linked to the proposed mining in the area.
“We can confirm that nine people between the ages of 20 and 40 were arrested after houses were attacked on Friday night. Also, solar panels were damaged, allegedly by the same group,” he said.
Yesterday Amadiba Crisis Committee (AMC) leader Mzamo Dlamini said residents were firm in their opposition to mining in their community.
“The arrested people are those who are against this mining. The solar panels that were damaged belong to the people who support the mining and [other] people were angry with that,” said Dlamini.
He said the arrested people were released on Saturday after their lawyer intervened. “We called our lawyer who released them but they are expected to appear in court on Monday,” he said.
For nearly two decades, residents have been at each other’s throats over a proposal to mine the titanium-rich red sand on the coastline.
The AMC’s resistance to the mining project is backed by human rights attorney Richard Spoor and the Legal Resource Centre.
Last week the Dispatch visited Xolobeni, where residents complained that not all would benefit from the project. — firstname.lastname@example.org
Men suspected of property damage in Xolobeni arrested by E Cape police
SABC 10 May 2015
Eastern Cape police have arrested nine men for malicious damage to property, after homes belonging to women who support titanium mining at Xolobeni in Bizana were vandalised on Friday night.
Police spokesperson Khaya Tonjeni says trouble started when a team of Environmental Impact Assessment practitioners were denied access to the red sand dunes at Xolobeni.
Amadiba Empowerment Committee member, Zamile Qunya, says a group of youths gathered at a local school before going on a rampage, damaging properties of those believed to be supporting mining.
Police are monitoring the situation, which is described as tense but calm.
The nine suspects aged between 21 and 24 years are expected to appear in the Bizana Magistrates Court on Monday to face charges of malicious damage to property.
Villagers fight to keep their red dunes
10 May 2015
Untouched: The 67-year-old Mablasi Yalo and her four-year-old granddaughter Azola walk along the red dunes in Xolobeni near Mbizana, Eastern Cape.
Mablasi Yalo (67) was born and bred in Xolobeni on the outskirts of Mbizana, a rural town on the border of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.
Yalo is one of hundreds of Xolobeni residents opposed to proposed titanium mining by the Australian-based Richtersveld Mining Company (RMC).
City Press found Yalo walking over the hills of the red dunes, the source of a conflict within Xolobeni that has not only divided residents but pitted brother against brother.
Yalo is a widow with seven children and three grandchildren. She had gone to the mealie fields on Thursday morning to fetch maize meal on the other side of the red dunes, accompanied by granddaughter Azola (4).
As she walked across what looked like a red desert, carrying a 20-litre bucket full of mealie meal on her head, she stopped for a chat, curious about our presence in this beautiful, highly contentious and protected piece of land on the banks of Kwanyana Beach.
She wanted to get her maize meal early, as it would be too late to do so after the meeting.
Later, Yalo and about 1 000 other villagers gathered at the uMgungundlovu Great Place on Thursday to discuss the latest flare-up in the Xolobeni mining conflict.
Violence had erupted between the pro- and anti-mining groups, led by the crisis committee, the previous Sunday.
“This land belongs to our forefathers. It’s our ancestral land and no one can just come here and do as they please. We don’t want any mining to take place here. We eat from our land because we plough crops here. We might be poor, but we are not stupid. They will have to kill all of us first before they can take this land,” said Yalo.
At the meeting, held in an open field next to a community hall that was too small to accommodate the high turnout, emotions ran high.
The meeting was attended mostly by those opposed to mining. Proceedings started with a prayer. The men were ordered to remove their hats, as per tradition.
On the right, men carrying knobkerries were seated on benches while women sat on the ground to the left.
At a small table were the leaders of the crisis committee, the fiercest critics of the proposed mine, along with Xolobeni regent Duduzile Baleni and lawyer for the crisis committee Michael Tsele.
The meeting started with Nonhle Mbuthuma, deputy chairperson of the crisis committee, questioning why police were not present at the meeting to ensure peace and security. She accused the police of playing games and being on the side of the pro-mining group.
Mbuthuma said the situation at Xolobeni had reached boiling point and she made a call for President Jacob Zuma to intervene.
“We are saying to President Zuma that this is getting out of hand. We can see that even the police are against us. So we are calling on the president to intervene to avoid another Marikana, because we are prepared to die for our land. No mining is going to take place as long as we live,” she said.
Police at the Mpisi Police Station have also been accused of refusing to open a case after an elderly man brought them a bullet cartridge from the scene where a shooting took place last Sunday.
This was after a nine-car convoy carrying pro-mining supporters and environmental assessors trying to make their way to the proposed site of the mine through Xolobeni was stopped in its tracks.
Villagers had got wind of the delegation and blocked the road with rocks and wood.
Violence erupted between the anti-mining and pro-mining villagers, with the latter allegedly accompanied by police who shot in the direction of those who had blocked the road.
Masandilose Ndovela (62) claimed she was beaten on the head with the butt of a pistol – repeatedly.
“I was also hit with a bush knife and kicked. I was confused and scared. I thought I was going to die,” she explained.
Ndovela, who has fresh stitches on her left arm, was recently released from hospital.
Despite the police refusing to open a case against a pro-mining group who allegedly carried guns and shot at anti-mining villagers, four of the people who blocked the road were arrested for allegedly damaging a vehicle.
City Press has seen two letters, sent to both the Mzamba and Mpisi police stations, dated April 30 2015. These letters have been stamped by police at these stations, which serves as an acknowledgment of receipt.
The letters, which were written by Duduzile Baleni, request a police presence at the uMgungundlovu Great Place to ensure peace.
It also emerged that police had called for a meeting of stakeholders – on the same day as the uMgungundlovu imbizo. This move was interpreted as an attempt to further divide the community.
The Mpisi Police Station manager could not be reached for comment.
As tempers flared at the meeting, with talks of “revenge” and “blood being spilt”, it also emerged that the village chief, Lunga Baleni, had “sold the villagers out” and was now working with the mining company.
The chief and his wife, Xolokazi, are alleged to be directors of the Xolobeni Empowerment Company (Xolco), which is believed to be in business with the Richtersveld Mining Company.
Xolco is listed with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission and the couple – along with several others – are listed as active directors.
However, the chief denied that he was a director in the company.
“They are dragging my name through the mud. I have nothing to do with the mining company or Xolco. All I want is development.
“If people don’t want mining, they must be persuaded. I am against a bloodbath,” he said.
Richard Mthwa (50), also born and bred in Xolobeni, said he, too, was prepared to die for the land of his forefathers and would not allow mining to take place.
He accused Xolobeni Junior Secondary teachers of being co-opted by the mining group.
“Our children at school are taught to love this mining thing. They are fed all sorts of lies.
“We’re being pitted against our own kids. These teachers must stay away from politics and teach our children – that’s what they are paid to do,” he said at the meeting to wild applause.
Nokwamkela Mteki, a ward councillor at Xolobeni, said perhaps people would have considered endorsing mining had the mining company promised developments, such as hotels and shopping malls.
She said a lack of consultation was the primary reason for the impasse.
“I am a ward councillor here, yet no one has consulted me about the mining prospects or anything. As such, I’m fully behind those who oppose the mining in Xolobeni,” she added.
Meanwhile, her predecessor, Ntethelelo Madikizela, a pro-mining activist and one of the people accused of shooting at the anti-mining group, is adamant that mining will go ahead.
According to Madikizela, he did not attack the group. He added that he believed he was being hijacked and had tried to defend himself.
“We had just attended a meeting when I saw that the road was blocked by large rocks around 8pm on Sunday. I drove over the rocks.
“They said they had been sent by the community to block the road. They were armed with machetes,” he added.
However, Madikizela, who said his car was stoned during the ruckus, eventually admitted that he did have his gun with him.
Madikizela said he wanted mining to start in Xolobeni, as the project would result in huge infrastructure development, such as the construction of roads, ensuring water supply and electricity and that schools and clinics would be built.
He said the mining initiative would result in job opportunities, starting with the building phase – even before the mine became active.
“This project will bring plenty of opportunities in this place and help us fight poverty … what is even worse is that most of the people who are opposed to mining are not even from Xolobeni – they are from faraway places.
“Nonhle [Mbuthuma] and John Clarke are not from Xolobeni; they have no business sticking their noses into our things,” he added.
Clarke is an anti-mining activist who has been involved in the Xolobeni matter for years.
Madikizela added: “We, the people of Xolobeni, are determined to bring mining to this area, and are also prepared to die to realise that dream. We are not scared of their intimidation.”
Sand mining over our dead bodies
LOYISO MPALANTSHANE 7 May 2015 in News
The bitter feud over sand mining in a Wild Coast village is far from over with a threat from defiant opponents that they would rather die than betray future generations.
The group of more than 3000 members of the Amadiba Crisis Committee (AMC) said living with the guilt of betrayal would be worse than death.
Their threat comes as four AMC members were arrested yesterday for their part in violent clashes.
Scores of residents from at least five villages in Mgungundlovu Administrative Area, popularly known as Xolobeni, gathered at the Mbizana Magistrate’s Court yesterday to demand the immediate release of Kakiwe Mtwa, 55, who was charged with malicious damage to property for allegedly smashing the car of a rival group member, Zamile Qunya.
Qunya, of the Xolobeni Empowerment Company (Xolco), was heading a nine-vehicle convoy driving to the proposed mining site at Kwanyana Beach last week when they were stopped by an armed group who barricaded the road.
On Sunday, when the convoy again attempted to break through the roadblock, the two groups clashed.
Yesterday, the four members of the AMC were arrested on charges of intimidation, but released pending further police investigation. There was confusion at the court when the prosecutor said he had not received a docket charging Mtwa.
For nearly two decades, residents have been at each other’s throats over the proposed mining of titanium-rich red sand on the coastline by Australian company, Mineral Commodities (MRC).
AMC’s resistance to the mining project is backed by human rights attorney Richard Spoor and the Legal Resource Centre.
The Daily Dispatch visited Xolobeni yesterday where residents voiced their opinions on the proposed development.
A 64-year-old Mabhuti Tanci said not all of them would benefit from the project were it to go ahead.
“We are not educated. We are unskilled. We will miss out on job opportunities because we don’t have the ability to operate those machines [used for mining].”
He also asked what would be left for the community when the 22-year mining licence expired.
AMC spokeswoman Nonhle Mbuthuma said they opposed any exploitation of the land that has provided sustenance to their families and their livestock.
Among other reasons, she said, the mining would disturb their ancestors’ graves, and the crops, grazing and estuaries they depended on to survive.
Mbuthuma said their water reservoirs would be depleted by the time the envisaged mining came to an end.
“Where will our children’s children get their water from?”
Ward 25 councillor Nokwamkela Mteki denounced the violence in Xolobeni.
“The situation is grave, I don’t want to lie. We must stop fighting. People must sit down and talk.”
She said it was for the mining owners to come to the community and sit down with those residents who were concerned with the project.
Chief Lunga Baleni, who is said to be in favour of the development and has been accused of trying to force his view on residents, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The community will today hold an imbizo at Chief Baleni’s homestead to discuss their way forward. — email@example.com
Letter of demand for end to violence sent> from Amadiba attorneys to partners of Australian mining company MRC after a STATEMENT Published 11 May 2015
Advertisements: Related Articles Article Video DLF: Trevor Ngwane in solidarity with the Amadiba Crisis Committee Media LS: Law Society condemns violence, offers pro bono assistance by attorneys to victims of xenophobia Media Unity of utmost importance – NUM Media Related social media Related social media terms: #Mining #Wild Coast #Bashin Qunya #SAFM #Mining #Wild Coast #Bashin Qunya #SAFM Sunday 3 May, a dozen men driving 4x4s, fired shots in Mtentu and in Xolobeni. This is three of five villages affected by the Australian MRC’s mining application for a 22km long and 1.5km wide strip on the Wild Coast. A well-known business man in Bizana, Zamile Qunya, led the attack on the villagers. He fired shots and beat community members in Xolobeni with the butt of his pistol. One of his bullets grazed the head of a community member. Zamile Qunya is an employee of MRC and a Director of Blue Bantry 255, which is a MRC BEE partner. MRC’s other partner is the private company “Xolobeni Empowerment Company” (Xolco). Of the 13 who yesterday received a Letter of Demand from Richard Spoor’s office, half of them are directors and former directors of Xolco and Blue Bantry. Chief Lunga Baleni is one of them. - -- Mr Zamile Qunya seems to enjoy impunity in Bizana. Instead of being arrested he is interviewed as development expert by SAFM and other radio stations. He should be in court, not in radio speaking to us about “development”. A woman (61) has pressed charges against his brother Bashin Qunya. During last Sunday’s attack, she was stabbed in the arm and kicked when lying on the ground. In the same evening, two unknown men came looking for her. Since Friday, she is in hiding. She is determined resolved to bring Bashin to court. Forces in the municipality are hell-bent on not letting this happen as Bashin is a member of the Qunya family. A new car with men has since then been visiting the homestead of a friend to her. - MRC beneficiaries are trying to create an atmosphere of terror in the coastal communities. Many families have moved their children to relatives after Sunday 3 May and continued nightly visits by cars with unknown men. Issued by Amadiba Crisis Committee
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Letter of demand for end to violence sent from Amadiba attorneys to partners of Australian mining company MRC
STATEMENT Published 11 May 2015 Advertisements: Related Articles Article Video DLF: Trevor Ngwane in solidarity with the Amadiba Crisis Committee Media LS: Law Society condemns violence, offers pro bono assistance by attorneys to victims of xenophobia Media Unity of utmost importance – NUM Media Related social media Related social media terms: #Mining #Wild Coast #Bashin Qunya #SAFM #Mining #Wild Coast #Bashin Qunya #SAFM Sunday 3 May, a dozen men driving 4x4s, fired shots in Mtentu and in Xolobeni. This is three of five villages affected by the Australian MRC’s mining application for a 22km long and 1.5km wide strip on the Wild Coast. A well-known business man in Bizana, Zamile Qunya, led the attack on the villagers. He fired shots and beat community members in Xolobeni with the butt of his pistol. One of his bullets grazed the head of a community member. Zamile Qunya is an employee of MRC and a Director of Blue Bantry 255, which is a MRC BEE partner. MRC’s other partner is the private company “Xolobeni Empowerment Company” (Xolco). Of the 13 who yesterday received a Letter of Demand from Richard Spoor’s office, half of them are directors and former directors of Xolco and Blue Bantry. Chief Lunga Baleni is one of them. - -- Mr Zamile Qunya seems to enjoy impunity in Bizana. Instead of being arrested he is interviewed as development expert by SAFM and other radio stations. He should be in court, not in radio speaking to us about “development”. A woman (61) has pressed charges against his brother Bashin Qunya. During last Sunday’s attack, she was stabbed in the arm and kicked when lying on the ground. In the same evening, two unknown men came looking for her. Since Friday, she is in hiding. She is determined resolved to bring Bashin to court. Forces in the municipality are hell-bent on not letting this happen as Bashin is a member of the Qunya family. A new car with men has since then been visiting the homestead of a friend to her. - MRC beneficiaries are trying to create an atmosphere of terror in the coastal communities. Many families have moved their children to relatives after Sunday 3 May and continued nightly visits by cars with unknown men. Issued by Amadiba Crisis Committee
It is our preference that if you wish to share this article with others you should please use the following link:
Legalbrief | your legal news hub Wednesday 13 May 2015
Mining Minister's powers to be trimmed
The Cape Argus reports that briefing the Provincial Standing Committee on Community Development last week, Lize McCourt, of the Department of Environment and Tourism, said the National Environmental Management Amendment Bill will, among other things, improve provisions for co-operative governance. The biggest chunk of amendments is in Chapter 5 of the Bill, which deals with integrated environmental management and is the enabling chapter for environmental authorisations. McCourt said while Ministers had agreed that the Minister of Minerals and Energy retain the mandate as a designated competent authority to implement systems related to mining, and they had suggested that the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism should be made the appeal authority in the mining-environmental management process. Full Cape Argus report (subscription needed)
This will come as a relief to many - not least those opposed to further mining rights being granted indiscriminately to the Australian company, Mineral Commodities, who last week was given permission by the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) to mine a portion of the Wild Coast. A report in The Times notes that Mineral Commodities (MRC) appears to be taking strain financially, with most of its mining ventures collapsing in red ink and litigation. The MRC, whose chairperson is Joseph Caruso (61), and MD Mark Caruso (45), posted a R48m loss last year. The Perth-based junior miner's future hinges on two SA projects: the controversial Xolobeni on the Wild Coast and Tormin on the West Coast. These, it hopes to finance from its 5.7% stake in London AIM-listed Allied Gold. The Department of Environment and Tourism concluded its report on the environmental impact assessment that MRC commissioned from consultants Groundwater Consulting Services saying: 'The Department has grave concerns with regard to the proposed mining developments in the area and objects to it'. However, besides ignoring the department's rejection of the environmental impact assessment, the DME ignored a report from the SA Human Rights Commission alleging the required community support was not genuine. MRC said that it has been notified that it had received the mining rights, and had not heard anything further from the department. Full report in The Times
Rich whites had caused the divisions over mining the dunes, according to Minerals and Energy Minister, Buyelwa Sonjica, who travelled to Xolobeni last week, to meet community leaders, local government, and black economic-empowerment (BEE) partners of the MRC. A Mining Weekly report says Sonjica visited the site and held meetings with local community members. DME spokesperson Bheki Khumalo said as far as the DME was concerned, the granting of the licence was a 'done deal', although the Minister was open to hear the views of all concerned. With regard to the remaining 70% of the Xolobeni project, which will be held under a prospecting right valid until 2010, Khumalo said the DME could not tell if and when the rights for those blocks will be granted, as MRC still had to meet certain obligations. A Sunday Tribune report quotes Sonjica saying, 'We are going to mine for people to get employment'. She said all environmental concerns raised about the mining were being addressed through the environmental management plan. Sonjica also suggested that divisions over mining in the community had been caused by 'rich whites' and attorney Richard Spoor. Full Mining Weekly report Full Sunday Tribune report
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