In this four part series we begin with the protest action in Kagiso early this year. The residents of Kagiso on Johannesburg’s West Rand are calling for the complete shut down of Mintails Mogale Gold. This mining operation began unrestrained blasting only 100m’s away from their homes late in 2013. People describe an earthquake type effect which cracked their walls and foundations. The community then mobilised to have the mine shut down stating in their list of grievances various laws that had been contravened by the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) Mogale City and the mining company.
Published by Media for Justice on 18 Apr 2014
These include; having not presented the community with a Mining License, an Environmental Impact Assessment, a Social Impact Assessment and a Water License. The community also say that there was absolutely no public participation facilitated by government and they were left out of the process entirely.
On their list of grievances is the problem with dust pollution and other forms of toxic pollution such as uranium poisoning seeping into ground water and rivers. In addition this community say that many suffer from asthma and die of cancer.
When Minister Susan Shabangu met with them she tells them that The Constitution of South Africa protects the company and that she can see no legal reason why the mine should shut down. She gets booed by the community and her pro-business utterances spark days of unrest and street protests as the community declare that they will engage in civil disobedience until the mine is closed completely.
Within days of “Our houses are our Gold” going public which follows the process of pressure from the community and the transgressions of government and business – the Minister of DMR announces publicly that Mintails has been shut down temporarily. This announcement is made in the mainstream press and the community protest leaders say it is a ruse to pacify the community so that the elections will not be compromised. They say that they were not informed first of the reasons the mine was closed down and feel it is a publicity stunt.
Since then the community has continued with their meetings and negotiations with Mintails and with Government. The demand is still to shut down the mine unless it is 100% safe for them (which they doubt is possible) and that Mintails invest in social infrastructure in Kagiso and surrounds. Thus far they have drawn up a memorandum of agreement with Mintails and are engaged in a protracted negotiation. It remains to be seen whether Mintails will offer anything of value to the community. The Water License has finally been granted and other documents have suddenly been ‘unclassified’. (This aspect we are still investigating)
In the meantime Mintails has sent a CEO from England over to assess the damage done to houses and have agreed to fix up some houses in Kagiso 3. But members of this community swear blind that the mining is still in operation and that they can hear the rumblings and blasts happening deep within the ground and that their houses still shudder.
Media for Justice continues to follow this case study of community organisation in their quest for accountability from both Government and Business. It is series that looks at the fine details of a people’s struggle and the due process that they follow to demand justice.
Read more at –
IOL (Cops and protestors in running battles)
and on Youtube