Threats, death, harassment engulf South African Mine Activists

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa

Mine activists in South Africa are facing the highest number of threats, death and harassment for taking a stand against poor working conditions of mine workers, and exploitation of traditional

land meant for burial sites and grazing.

New reports indicate that the attacks against mine activists has created an atmosphere of fear in the community and also created a division between community members who view the activities as an opportunity for economic development and employment.

The report further makes reference to the murder of the chairperson of a community-based organization Sikhosiphi Rhadebe, who was killed by unknown assailants in 2016 for leading an organization that opposed mineral sands mining by Mineral Commodities Ltd in the Eastern Cape region. The project was owned by the Australian company Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources.

According to members of local communities, local security forces believed to be working for Mine owners often block peaceful protests, and arrest participants for demonstrating against projects they deem harmful to the environment and are against their ancestral heritage.

Further, they added that any person who stands up to protect and fight for their rights is often harassed, physically beaten with some attaining permanent body damages or death and their properties destroyed.

“We know our lives are in danger. This is part of the struggle.” Said one activist.

More than ten foreign companies are operating in South Africa extracting metals and minerals, gold, diamond, coal, Platinum, palladium, Chromium, Uranium manganese, titanium and many others.

In 2012, South African police fired live ammunitions at 3,000 protesting mine workers at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine 60 miles north-west of Johannesburg killing 34 workers and injuring 78 in what was termed as one for the darkest days in South Africa after apartheid.