Nuclearisation of Africa - Conference in pictures

Right2Know Joint Statement on attacks on activists in SA

Friday, 20 July 2018 15:50
Rate this item
(0 votes)

The R2K statement is now available – attached, and see here online: https://bit.ly/2mqhmYC 

Here it is on Twitter: https://twitter.com/r2kcampaign/status/1019887084893605889 

19 July 2018

 

JOINT STATEMENT: We strongly condemn attacks on civil society organisations and activists!

The undersigned organisations condemn the recent vicious attacks on environmental justice activists in South Africa.

In one case, we are outraged at the reported murder on 11 July 2018 of Mr D Mpanza, an activist who had opposed a relocation of the community in KwaDube in KwaZulu Natal. KZN violence monitor Mary de Haas has reported that people living on this land have been informed by various authorities that they must be relocated to accommodate onshore mining operations between Mthunzini and Richards Bay. According to De Haas, Mr Mpanza was shot dead, execution-style, on 11 July when travelling home from Esikhawini. Of the companions he was travelling with he alone was targeted.

In another case, we note an escalating campaign of social media attacks by those associated with an Mpumalanga mining project, on a number of South African environmental rights organisations.[1] The campaign is led by the senior vice president of Indian-owned mining company Atha-Africa Ventures Pty Ltd, which is facing multiple legal challenges from these organisations to its applications to mine coal in a strategic water source area and protected environment in Mpumalanga[2].

This campaign is made up of various accusations and threats on social media which are designed to intimidate, silence and discourage activists who are lawfully opposing a coal mine in a strategic water source area and protected environment. He has publicly accused these organisations of “treason” and an “anti-national agenda”. These unfounded attacks are intolerable in our Constitutional democracy.

The South African Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of expression, freedom of the press, the right to access to justice, and the right to just administrative action. South Africa also has a long tradition of activism and civil society mobilisation to uphold our Constitution and defend Constitutional values.

More than two years have passed since cde Bazooka Rhadebe, an anti-mining activist in Xolobeni, was assassinated on the Wild Coast in 2016. To date nobody has been brought to book for his murder. Across the world, corporations have employed intimidation and violence when their commercial interests are challenged by activists, especially activists defending natural resources and environmental rights. The murder and assault of environmental activists are already common occurrences in many parts of the world.[3]

We strongly condemn both physical and verbal attacks on civil society organisations and activists.

In the case of Mr Mpanza, we call for the speedy arrest and successful prosecution of his killers, and immediate protection for other residents who oppose the relocation in KwaDube. Furthermore we call for the authorities to give full information and participation to the community on this proposed relocation, and respect the voices of those who oppose it.


In the case of Atha-Africa, we call on the Minerals Council of South Africa (formerly the Chamber of Mines) to state publicly that it will revoke the membership of any company whose employees engage in this type of conduct. The mining authorities cannot remain silent when companies operating in South Africa unlawfully intimidate and threaten activists exercising their Constitutional rights.

#Ends


Endorsed by:

  1. Abahlali Basemjondolo
  2. African Centre for Biodiversity
  3. AIDS Foundation of South Africa
  4. Amnesty International SA (Durban Chapter)
  5. Asonet
  6. Association for Progressive Communications (International)
  7. Bench Marks Foundation
  8. Biowatch SA
  9. BirdLife South Africa
  10. Body Corporate of King Shaka Estate
  11. Centre for Applied Legal Studies
  12. Centre for Constitutional Rights
  13. Centre for Environmental Rights
  14. Children's Radio Foundation       (International)
  15. Corruption Watch
  16. Door To Door foundation
  17. Earthjustice       (International)
  18. Earthlife Africa Durban
  19. Earthlife Africa Joburg
  20. EarthLore Foundation
  21. EDO NSW (International)
  22. Ekogaia Foundation
  23. Ekurhuleni Environmental Organisation
  24. Endangered Wildlife Trust
  25. Environmental Justice Australia       (International)
  26. Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (International)
  27. Environmental Monitoring Group
  28. Federation for a Sustainable Environment
  29. Fireflies Memorial (International)
  30. GenderCC Southern Africa - Women for Climate Justice
  31. Global Environmental Trust
  32. Greenpeace Durban Local Group
  33. groundWork
  34. Heinrich Boell Stiftung Southern Africa (International)
  35. Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (International)
  36. International Labour Research and Information Group (ILRIG)
  37. Izingwenya Youth Development
  38. Just Share
  39. KRC
  40. KZN Monitor
  41. Land and Accountability Research Centre, University of Cape Town
  42. Lawyers for Human Rights
  43. Lihlithemba Community Organisation
  44. Market Users Committee
  45. Mayine Community Movement
  46. MCEJO
  47. Media Monitoring Africa
  48. Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation
  49. Mining and Environmental Justice Communities Network of South Africa (MEJCON-SA)
  50. MSF (KZN)
  51. MUC
  52. My Vote Counts
  53. No Nukes Asia Forum Japan (International)
  54. Noordhoek Environmental Action Group
  55. Open Democracy Advice Centre
  56. Parliamentary Monitoring Group
  57. PHA Food & Farming Campaign
  58. Popular Education Programme
  59. Reid Incorporated Attorneys
  60. Right2Know Campaign
  61. SAVE UNIZULU
  62. Schoeman and Associates
  63. Schubart Park community
  64. SCLC
  65. Sekhukhune Environmental Justice Network
  66. SHINE
  67. Simunye Workers Forum
  68. Sisonke Environmental Justice Network
  69. Social and Environmental Justice in Action
  70. Social Justice Coalition
  71. South African Youth Climate Change Coalition
  72. South Durban Community Environmental Alliance
  73. Sustaining the Wild Coast
  74. TAC (KZN)
  75. Teens And Youth Health C.N
  76. The Gaia Foundation (International)
  77. ToadNUTs
  78. Ubukhosi bezandla NPC
  79. Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance
  80. Vaaloewer Ratepayers Association
  81. Voices of the Poor Concerned Residents (VPCR)
  82. Vukani Environmental Movement (VEM)
  83. Waterberg Environmental Justice Forum (WEJF)
  84. Waterberg Women Advocacy Organization
  85. Well Worn Theatre Company
  86. Western Cape Water Caucus
  87. Wilderness Foundation Africa
  88. Women and Democracy Initiative, Dullah Omar Institute
  89. Women Revolution
  90. WoMin African Alliance (International)
  91. WPCN
  92. Youens Attorneys

For media comments contact:

Biko Mutsaurwa, R2K NWG Member: 079 915 5220

Ngazini Ngidi, R2K NWG Member: 071 105 2507

ONLINE VERSION: https://bit.ly/2mqhmYC

 

Note to media: Please attribute contents of this statement to the mentioned organisations not to any individuals unless you contact a spokesperson for specific comments.

 

 

[1] These organisations include Centre for Environmental Rights, the Mining and Environmental Justice Community Network of South Africa, groundWork, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, BirdLife South Africa, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, the Association for Water and Rural Development (AWARD), the Bench Marks Foundation and WWF South Africa.

[2] https://cer.org.za/news/new-proceedings-launched-to-protect-mpumalanga-strategic-water-source-area-from-coal-mining

[3] https://www.globalwitness.org/en-gb/blog/new-data-reveals-197-land-and-environmental-defenders-murdered-2017/

 

 

MINING

HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - REPORT ON THE NATIONAL HEARING ON THE UNDERLYING SOCIO-ECONOMIC CHALLENGES OF MINING AFFECTED COMMUNITIES

The SAHRC launched its Report on the National Hearing on the Underlying Socio-economic Challenges of Mining-affected Communities in South Africa on the 22nd of August 2018. The FSE participated in the Hearing and many of its issues of concern are addressed in the Report. The Report may be opened here as a PDF document.

Mintails collapse: a case study in how not to close mines

Liquidation leaves a R330-million environmental mess for Gauteng residents, gove...

West Wits asks for chance as Florida, Soweto oppose mining

 By Charlotte Mathews - July 27, 2018 Mine dump near Soweto ALL West W...

SA NEWS

Mintails placed into final liquidation

BUSINESS DAY Mintails placed into final liquidation Department of Mineral Resources will join long line of creditors hoping to recoup money 20 September 2018 - 17:27 Lisa Steyn

BUSINESS DAY EXCLUSIVE: Liquidation allows Mintails to shirk environmental liabilities

21 August 2018 - 05:04 Mark Olalde   Pollution: Water resource management consultant Anthony Turton, with the Mintails gold plants and water treatment tanks in the background. Picture: BUSINESS DAY/FREDDY MAVUNDA Mintails Mining and several related companies have announced their liquidation, throwing into question the environmental rehabilitation of highly polluting operations near Johannesburg. Mintails mines and processes gold from a sprawling 1,715ha complex of waste piles and open pits in Krugersdorp and has for years been flagged for noncompliance. Its operations are bordered by informal settlements and suburbs housing thousands of residents, many of whom have complained of health effects, which they blame on radioactive dust and water pollution from Mintails’ mines. Records show that the cost to clean up the environment would be about R330m, but there is only R25.6m available. Observers fear that the situation could deteriorate further, as happened at the Blyvooruitzicht Gold Mine, an abandoned large-scale operation on the West Rand. A case study in the country’s deeply flawed mine closure system, Mintails teetered on the verge of collapse for years and entered business rescue in October 2015. Mariette Liefferink, the activist CEO of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, tracked Mintails for more than a decade and is now working to intercede in the liquidation proceedings as the legal voice for what she labels the "mute environment". "There was poor planning. [Mintails’] due diligence was flawed. They overestimated the gold grade and the resource that could be reclaimed. "They continued to exploit the resource, to reclaim only the profitable parts and never top up the financial provisions," Liefferink says. As the company slips into liquidation, it passes the brunt of its environmental liability to taxpayers and, to an extent, to other mining companies. After Mintails fought for nearly three years to save the company, business rescue practitioner Dave Lake notified the Johannesburg high court in early August of his intention to liquidate the company. Provisional liquidation was granted on August 17 and a liquidator is expected to be appointed soon. THERE IS NO LONGER A REASONABLE PROSPECT OF RESCUING THE COMPANY. The business rescue plan called for the refurbishment of a gold ore processing plant but, according to a memo dated August 1 that Lake sent to the court and to affected parties, it failed when multiple investors ceased funding Mintails. "There is no longer a reasonable prospect of rescuing the company," the memo read. The liquidator will now decide how to pay back creditors with the remaining assets. Environmentalists fear this process could leave environmental liabilities low on the list of what deserves money. According to the business rescue plan, written in December 2016, Mintails owed various creditors more than R1bn, including a shortfall of about R300m in reclamation funding. Due to a web of involved companies, it remains unclear if a large portion of the already insufficient financial provisions can be accessed for environmental cleanup. DRDGold formerly held one of the mining rights and the corresponding trust fund, which are now in the Mintails group. DRDGold CEO Niël Pretorius says he believes that the trust fund contained R18m but he did not identify the trustees, whose consent is vital to unlocking the money. Documents show the Mintails group acknowledged that rehabilitation would probably cost between R300m and R336.5m, but it declined to top up financial provisions. According to the environmental management programme from one of Mintails’ mining rights: "These liabilities are also historic and predate Mintails’ involvement and should thus not be for Mintails’ account." Experts debate this narrow interpretation of the law. Lake wrote in the business rescue plan: "The Mintails group’s rehabilitation liabilities have remained largely unfunded for some time, and there are simply no free funds available to the [business rescue practitioner] to enable him to immediately provide such funding." Legal Resources Centre attorney Lucien Limacher is representing the Federation for a Sustainable Environment. "This is a trend that has been occurring for a couple of years where mining companies have undertaken a business rescue plan or have applied for liquidation because they have failed to really look after the rehabilitation fund," he says. The Legal Resources Centre sent letters to several government agencies, including the department of mineral resources, the department of water & sanitation and the department of energy, asking them to intervene in the situation and threatening to pursue legal action if the department of mineral resources fails to act. Department of water & sanitation spokesperson Sputnik Ratau says they are "engaging Mintails so that the immediate measures can be put into place to ensure water resources protection. A longer-term plan is required to ensure rehabilitation of the mining-impacted areas." Lake declines to answer questions about the failed business rescue and the liquidation but he wrote for Moneyweb in January 2017 and laid out his argument for Mintails’ use of business rescue: "Mintails was sick – but it wasn’t terminal." Now the situation has become what Liefferink calls "pass the parcel", with Mintails playing the part of a "scavenger company", a term coined by researchers to describe under-resourced outfits that buy the scraps left over from larger mining companies and ultimately abandon them. Large gold, coal and platinum mines rarely, if ever, properly close in SA and there wasn’t one large-scale mine in Gauteng that achieved full, legal closure between 2011 and 2016. Mintails’ case will not affect the law that ring-fences financial assurances for reclamation, Limacher says. "But it is precedent-setting in that mines might now start applying for liquidation to avoid paying the cost of rehabilitation." Mintails’ West Rand concessions came in part from DRDGold, which also remines waste piles, and from Mogale Gold, which was in judicial management when Mintails acquired it in 2006. Since then, Mintails engaged in a pattern of environmental degradation. For example, the department of water & sanitation found in an August 2014 inspection that Mintails transported "slurry/sludge" in unlined trenches, completed insufficient monitoring, spilled slurry from pipelines and implemented no storm water management system at a pollution control dam. In December 2016, polluted runoff from waste piles was found to be seeping through a dam wall into the Wonderfonteinspruit, which has immediate downstream agricultural uses in the community of Kagiso. Now it will largely be up to the liquidator and regulators to protect the environment and public health. "That is the pattern that seems to be followed in the gold mining industry, and, I assume, would be followed in the coal and platinum mining industries, as well. "As soon as a mine is no longer very profitable, it transfers its assets," Liefferink says. "That seems to have the tacit support of the department of mineral resources." However, the department of mineral resources sent a statement that reads: "The department will engage with the appointed provisional liquidators with the intention to safeguard the environmental and social responsibilities." Mintails former CEO Johan Moolman declined to comment except to say he quit on June 26 when he learned a new investor had bought the company. Mvest Capital agreed to purchase Mintails from Paige, a vehicle of the UK-based Harbour family, with the understanding that Mvest would inject R30m into the beleaguered company to stimulate the business rescue plan. Mvest decided against handing over the full amount, paying only R5.5m. Mvest director Matthew Moodley acknowledges the initial agreement and the R5.5m. He says that after a month it became apparent the deal would require more investment to succeed. "With the increased need for working capital in July, Mvest took a decision to withdraw from the transaction," Moodley says, adding that Mvest did not "conclude a transaction with Paige". Liefferink says these companies are all "jumping from a sinking ship". She fears Mintails will go the way of the abandoned Blyvooruitzicht Gold Mine, which was once one of the country’s most productive gold operations and is now a source of pollution, violent illegal mining gangs and headaches for adjacent mines. Mintails has followed a strikingly similar pattern. In the Blyvooruitzicht case, two companies, DRDGold and Village Main Reef, almost completed a business deal to sell the nearly exhausted mine and both walked away, claiming the other carried responsibility. "That whole area, just like Blyvooruitzicht, will be left like it is," Liefferink said. While neighbouring mining companies will probably have to pump water from the void in Mintails’ absence, the consequences of "the dust fallout and the toxic water in the river systems" will be carried by communities and by the municipality. oxpeckers.org Additional reporting by #MineAlert manager Tholakele Nene https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/companies/mining/2018-08-21-liquidation-allows-mintails-to-shirk-environmental-liabilities/

WATER

Water Crisis

More than two decades ago, science advocate IsmailMore than two decades ago, science advocate IsmailSerageldin forewarned that “the wars of the next centurywill be fought over water, unless we change our approachto managing this precious and vital resource”. Thissentiment is perilously close for comfort for South Africa,whose water crisis is manifesting with dire consequences.Given that the country has done little in the recent past to rectifyits water challenges, it will soon pay the price, financially, socially andeconomically, says Mariette Liefferink, CEO of the Federation for aSustainable Environment (FSE). The rest of the Document may be opened as a PDF document.

SUMMARY OF WATER RELATED CHALLENGES IN SOUTH AFRICA 2018

SUMMARY OF WATER RELATED CHALLENGES IN SOUTH AFRICA 2018 INTRODUCTION This su...

Appeal against Water Use License

UPDATE: Appeal against Water Use License issued to Atha-Africa Ventures (Pty) Lt...