One of the two leaders under threat in Amadiba is LMN’s friend Nonhle Mbuthuma. We helped support the struggle of the Amadiba Crisis Committee to protect the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape from destructive mineral sands mining by Australian company MRC, whose biggest investor was UK businessman Graham Edwards. Nonhle visited the UK in 2018 as a guest of LMN member group Gaia Foundation. The threat of mining and oil development still hangs over the area, and those opposed to them face grave danger.
Statement from the Amadiba Crisis Committee, 30 January 2023
We have received very disturbing information in January from a whistleblower, of the planned assassination of Nonhle Mbuthuma and Thwesha Silangwe, community leaders in Amadiba A/A in Mbizana (Eastern Cape).
Both leaders have been working to move the N2 Wild Coast Highway from the Amadiba coast to its inland. Nonhle is spokesperson of the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC). ACC is engaged in discussions with Sanral about the route of the N2. ACC is assisted by professional road engineers, spatial and social planners in proposing an alternative inland route.
We have got concrete information that Nonhle and Thwesha must be killed because of the discussions between the ACC and Sanral.
To move the N2 some 15 km from the coast is seen to be blocking a lucrative coastal “town” which would make politically connected cadres very wealthy. Politicians also still push for open cast titanium mining in Xolobeni, despite 20 year of community opposition and the application declared unlawful in Court in 2018.
That is why an atmosphere is being systematically created to legitimise the killings of Nonhle and Thwesha.
A part of the atmosphere is to hide and confuse that the discussion is about where the N2 is best placed in Amadiba. The discussion with Sanral is not about “stopping the road”.
On 28 November in Jama village by the Mtentu river, the government held a N2 meeting. Finance Minister Godongwana, Transport Minister Mbalula, EC Premier Mabuyane and others spoke. ACC has a recording of the speeches. The Premier as usual promoted mining in Xolobeni and drilling for oil and gas in the ocean. But one speech stuck out.
The Mayor of Alfred Nzo District Municipality had to admit community concerns. Then he prepared the audience for something sinister.
“If it is a must to disagree and it results in someone getting hurt, let us support the Chief no matter what is happening. It must not be said that in the Chief’s time, in our time, when we were leading as the people of this area, that there were things that did not happen. Because we will be held accountable. When things are like this, Premier, there are things one has to stand for. If it is necessary that a person standing for the truth must die, then that person must die.” [Loud reaction: “Eih!” “It is shit now!”]. If there is a reason that we don’t support the Chief; we are not saying that people don’t have things to talk and complain about, but it should happen in the right way. [But] there is one thing I can say, Premier. There are a lot of people arguing here, who are not us. We are conflicted by people who are not born here, who are not even black. Whether you are a white person, going with this one or that one. But the thing that makes us argue in this community, it has made us feel guilty for one thing. Because the day that we are gone, when we have died as people of this area, we have become cowards. In our time, these things happened. The coming generation suffered, because good things didn’t happen.”
[Find ACC’s transcription at end of this media release].
We listen to this in a time when there are political killings everywhere. Most times the perpetrators are not apprehended, like in the case of constant killings of AbM leaders, Cde Lindokuhle Mnguni being the third murder in 2022 only. There was the 2020 killing of Cde Fikile Ntshangase who opposed the expansion of a coal mine in KwaZuluNatal. Many local government councilors have been killed in faction fights or when they threaten to expose corruption. Ms Babita Deokaran was killed last year for bravely exposing corruption in the Gauteng Health services. Three weeks ago Mr Mboneli Vesele was cold bloodily assassinated. He was the bodyguard of Sakhela Buhlungu of the Fort Hare University. On 21 January, human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko, was murdered in Eswatini.
Profiteering and greed by corporations continue to destroy our livelihoods, but dishonest politicians continue as usual: “Don’t let anyone stop this project!”, forgetting that there is no development without honest engagement with the communities. A dictatorship approach is at the core of the so-called “failed state”.
They talk about drilling for oil and gas in the ocean. They don’t care about the ecological disaster, loss of livelihoods and the climate crisis hitting us all. They don’t partner with communities. They partner with transnational companies. They try to use traditional leaders as “deciders”, repeating the strategy of the apartheid government.
The plot to kill two leaders in Amadiba comes when the killing of ACC’s late Chairperson, Bazooka Radebe in March 2016 remains unsolved. It also comes in the face of numerous death threats ACC leaders have had to endure over the six years since Bazooka’s assassination.
The life of an activist in Southern Africa has become very cheap and assassins are easily hired.
Amadiba Crisis Committee
Nonhle Mbuthuma: 0734262955; Cromwell Sonjica 0630523090
ACC is on Facebook.
ACC’s transcription from the Alfred Nzo Mayor 28 November 2022 speech in isiMpondo:
“Ukuba kuyanyanzeleka ukuba masingevani, nokungevani kwethu kude kwenzeke ntoni komnye, masimxhase uNkosi kwenzeke eyenzakalayo. Kungathiwa ngexesha lakhe uNkosi, ngexesha lethu siphethe sikhokele singabalapha, kukhona izinto ezingazange zenzeke kungenjalo sakuphendula. Xa kunje Premier, zikhona izinto eziye zifune ukumelwa. Ukuba kunyanzelekile ukuba makufumntu ngokumela into eyiyo makafofayo.” [“Eih! Kunya nyiwa!”]. Kuba unobangela wokuba uNkosi basimsapoti asithi abantu abanazinto bazithethayo, bazikhalazelayo, kodwa mazenzeke ngendlela. Into endegayithetha Primer inye. Abantu abanizi abaxhabana apha ayisithi. Sixatyaniswa ngabantu eyingebabo nabokuzalwa, eyingibabo nabanyama balapha. Whether ngumlungu ohamba nobani, nohamba nobani. Kodwa yona into esixabanisayo kule lali. Zenje sibe nezazela zentwenye. Kuba mhla semka sabikho, saseweleka sonke thina bantu balapha. Sithi saba ngamagwala. Kwakuthi ngexesha lethu kwenzeka ezi zinto. Abandelayo babulawa sithi akwenzeka nto intle.”