Communities Fight Back Against Platinum Giants in Mokopane, Limpopo

Jubilee South Africa Press Statement 29 September 2008

Sekiming Stops Lonmin from Drilling Since 12 September!
Sekuruwe Fights Against Desecration of Graves!

Jubilee Mokopane held mass meetings on Sunday, 28 September, in the Sekuruwe and Sekiming communities, affected by the Anglo Platinum and Lonmin platinum mining companies. The communities, with support from many other communities in the Mapela Traditional Authority area, agreed to hold Anglo Platinum to account for the desecration of graves and to stop Lonmin from invading villages with their drilling machines.

Sekuruwe:

Sekuruwe is affected by the expansion of Anglo Platinum’s Potgietersrus Platinum Limited (PPL) operations. Anglo is taking the community’s ploughing and grazing fields and desecrating their graves to make way for a massive extension of its slimes dams.

The meeting at Sekuruwe was attended by more than 500 people, with delegations from other villages in the Mapela area affected by the mines. These included the communities of GaMolekane, Ga Pila, Sterkwater, Mashahleng, Matlou, Lelaka, Chokoe, Hans and Sekiming.

The main issue discussed was that of the damage done by Anglo and their undertaker in relocating the community graves to the other side of the village. Graves were dug up in a haphazard way, bones have been left lying at the original graveyard and community members suspect that coffins buried at the new site may be full of sand rather than human remains. Amanda Esterhuysen of the South African Heritage Resource Agency (SAHRA) informed the meeting that their report on the relocation has been forwarded to the South African human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

The meeting agreed that SAHRA take the necessary steps to get the legal authority to exhume the graves so as to match the contents of the graves with the bones left at the old site. It further agreed that Anglo must be made to foot the bill to cover the costs of restoring the human remains to their appropriate graves.

The attempt by Anglo and its creation, the community section 21 company, to reach agreement to lease the community’s land without consultation was also discussed. It was agreed that various avenues will be explored to call on the Minister of Land Affairs not to sign the agreement, including putting pressure on politicians in the run up to the elections.

Sekiming:

Sekiming is one of the 13 villages affected by Lonmin and is also affected by Anglo Platinum. Lonmin has introduced drilling machines into the village to explore for platinum. Anglo is responsible for blasting activity, resulting in cracking of houses and air pollution, and is also attempting to relocate the secondary school, Seritarita, serving Sekiming and adjacent villages.

The meeting at Sekiming was attended by approximately 300 people. The delegates from other villages that attended the meeting in Sekuruwe in the morning went to the Sekiming meeting in the afternoon.

The meeting heard of the community’s success in stopping the drilling machines from operating on 12 September and of the support the community received from other communities, notably Ga Chaba. The machines have not operated since. Lawyer Richard Spoor noted that the company was breaking the law in drilling without the community’s consent and that the community was within its rights to insist that the company does not drill in violation of the community’s wishes.

It was agreed that the Sekiming community will work with Ga Chaba, Hans and the other communities affected by Lonmin to stop drilling activities in all the villages until such time as Lonmin agrees to meet with the affected communities. It was also agreed to work with the School Governing Body and the communities that are served by Seritarita to oppose the relocation of the school.

At both meetings, people talked to the illegitimacy of the section 21 companies, the corruption between the mines and these companies and the use of informers and divide and rule tactics to undermine affected communities.

Phillipos Dolo, Jubilee Mokopane Coordinator, and George Dor, Jubilee South Africa General Secretary, stressed the importance of building solidarity amongst the 13 villages affected by Lonmin, amongst affected communities throughout the region and at the national and international levels. William Mabapa, National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) Limpopo Provincial Secretary, shared the recent decision at their provincial conference to step up support for community struggles against the mining companies.

For further information:

Phillipos Dolo, Jubilee Mokopane Coordinator, 073 789 2489

George Dor, Jubilee South Africa General Secretary, 076 460 9620

Mabapa William NUM Provincial Secretary, 082 880 4439

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