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CCS hosts mining critics for press conference, 7 April

Invitation to a Media Conference
The death of an activist, and escalating violence surrounding mining on the Wild Coast

Date: Thursday 7 April 2016
Time: 15h00
Venue: CCS Seminar Room 602, 6th floor, MTB tower, Howard College, University of KwaZulu Natal
Attended by members of the Amadiba Crisis Community

For 10 years the Amadiba Community in the Eastern Cape have stopped an Australian mining company, Mineral Commodities Ltd (MRC) from mining titanium on their land. On 22 March Bazooka Rhadebe, chairperson of the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) which is spearheading community opposition to mining, was gunned down by 2 hitmen allegedly posing as police at a workshop he owned. His murder came after threats to his life. Other ACC members fear for their lives as they are apparently also on a hit-list. This is not the the first murder of community leaders who are opposed to mining. Mandoda Ndovela who was killed in 2003 also opposed mining and his murder remains unsolved. Members of the ACC were attacked twice last year forcing the community to seek a legal injunction against the perpetrators. Three other ACC members have been killed – the victims of poisoning. SAPS is uninterested in investigating confrontations and seems to be acting in a manor that favours supporters of the new mine. On Saturday, journalists and activists who had attended Rhadebe’s funeral were attacked and beaten. The police arrived on the seen but did not arrest the perpetrators. Instead they confiscated a journalist’s camera. 70 organisations have endorsed a statement in support of the ACC. The statement condemns this pattern of criminal attacks on civil society formations. The statement calls for the speedy arrest and prosecution of the killers of Bazooka, for the Human Rights Commission to investigate the systematic process of intimidation, and for protection for all members of the ACC. Earthlife Africa Durban invites you to this media conference to hear the story of this struggle for land and livelihoods first-hand.

SA Broadcasting Corporation report from today's Durban protest and UKZN seminar/press conference with comments from Phila Ndimande (Fuleni), Sinegugu Zukulu (Xolobeni) and Bobby Peek (groundWork):

Community calls for an end to mining in KZN, E Cape
SABC Digital News

Environmental and community activists have joined forces to call for an end to mining in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. The joint campaign follows the murder of anti-mining activist Sikhosiphi Bazooka Radebe in the Eastern Cape. Radebe chaired the Amadiba Crisis Committee which has opposed titanium mining on the pristine dunes at Xolobeni for ten years.

(In this 44-minute broadcast, well worth listening to, the excellent radio journalist Redi Tlabi pushed Mark Caruso on his involvement in the Rhadebe assassination, and Caruso then blamed the death on South Africa's high murder rate. Listen with your jaw ready to drop, around the 23-25 minute mark, after Mzamo Dlamini from Xolobeni accuses him of funding the hit men, after which Cormac Cullinan provides superb comment.)

Mzamo Dlamini v Mark Caruso

Redi speaks to deputy chairperson of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, Mzamo Dlamini, executive chairperson of Mineral Commodities Limited, Mark Caruso and environmental lawyer, Cormac Cullinan, on the ongoing violence in the Xolobeni mining area. For a decade, the Amadiba Crisis Committee has led their community in resisting attempts from Australian-owned mining company MRC to access its titanium-rich Xolobeni coastal dunes, which would result in disruption of the community's way of life.

Posted 4/7/2016 10:35:37 AM

Published by Primedia Broadcasting

The Xolobeni community in the Wild Coast has been plagued for years by violence over disagreements around MRC, the Australian-owned mining company's access, to mine titanium in the area.

The community is against the mining operation as they say it would disrupt their way of life. Recently tensions mounted after the murder of one of the community's leaders, Sikhosiphi 'Bazooka' Rhadebe.

Mining company MRC is the company that would like to come mine for titanium on our ancestral land, and this is the land we live in and we do not want to be displaced as more than 200 households would have to be relocated.
— Mzamo Dlamini, Amadiba Crisis Committee

The mine is going to take a land which we use as grazing for our cattle. We use it for growing our food, which we rely on, and the water that the mine will poison is coming from the same land.
— Mzamo Dlamini, Amadiba Crisis Committee

We don't want to mine here. People should be consulted and be listened to and the community has made it clear that we don't want it here.
— Mzamo Dlamini, Amadiba Crisis Committee

The Chief of the community was allegedly opposed to the mining but has changed his position after being rewarded with a car which is said to be purchased by the mining company.

A mining right was granted in around 2008 which was subsequently withdrawn for one of the mining blocks.
— Mark Caruso, Mineral Commodities Limited

Xolobeni has been plagued by violence which dates back seven years in disagreements between the community and MRC for almost a decade.

The company decided that there was further work to be done in that mining right application and has now reverted to undertaking that work betwwen 2008 and the current application.
— Mark Caruso, Minera Commodities Limited executive

What we have is a mining right application so we don't have the right to mine yet. A scoping study assessment must be submitted and an environment impact assessment has to be done.
— Mark Caruso, Mineral Commodities Limited executive

ACC says the mining would displace more than 200 households, however, MRC denies that claim saying the area is remote with no families currently occupying the land.

The area in question is quite remote and denuded and in fact, it's a long way away from infrstructure.
— Mark Caruso, Mineral Commodities Limited

(Health-in-reading warning: this 'mining minister' is a counterfeit, allegedly placed in the job six months ago by the notorious Gupta family, which has massive coal and uranium interests. The protest in Durban today took place outside Zwane's regional office - the first of many to come. Just as the protest got underway, I wandered into the mining ministry office and chatted to a leading official there, who told me his Eastern Cape colleagues assured him that the Xolobeni situation was "manageable" and also that coal mining in Fuleni on the very border of the iMfolozi nature reserve was going ahead thanks to the "impressive" Ubutho Coal company's most recent presentation in that very office. From the official's pro-mining attitude, it was apparent that "state capture" of our African National Congress regime's Department of Mineral Resources is complete, by multinational mining capital - in case the Marikana Massacre hadn't taught us that already.)

Let authorities handle activist's assassination probe: Minister
Khatija Nxedlana 7 April 2016

Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane says misunderstandings should not be resolved through violence.

Zwane’s been speaking on the assassination of anti-mining activist, Sikhosiphi Bazooka Radebe in Xolobeni on the Wild Coast late last month.
Radebe was the chairperson of the Amadiba Crisis Committee which has been fighting a proposed open-cast titanium mine in the area.
Speaking in Umzumbe on the KZN south coast, Zwane said senior officials will be sent to the Eastern Cape community to talk with them.
"We are saying to people - let's not quickly judge. We want police to go deeply into the cause of the assassination. If it's related to mining, mining will deal with it. If it's criminal case we will then ask the police to assist us in dealing with that case," he said.

Meanwhile, members of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, Friends of the Earth and other environmental organisations are at this hour meeting at the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Howard College campus.

They are discussing Radebe's death and the escalating violence in the area and neighbouring communities.

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