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Right2Know Joint Statement on attacks on activists in SA

Friday, 20 July 2018 15:50
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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/