HUMAN RIGHTS DAY MEDIA STATEMENT
21st March 2017
MINING ACTIVISTS REMEMBER SLAIN ACTIVIST BAZOOKA RADEBE ON HUMAN RIGHTS DAY.
Communities from mining-affected areas used human rights day by commemorating the death of mining activist Bazooka Radebe at his home village in the Eastern Cape.
Radebe was killed on the 21st March 2016 outside his home in Xolobeni in the WildCoast, Eastern Cape.
The commemoration was attended by activists from Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, and was deliberately held on human rights day as these communities wanted to express their dissatisfaction at the violation of their rights in the mining communities.
Most activists are living in poverty, with no basic socio-economic right services like water and sanitation, roads or electricity. Their rights to clean environment and life are constantly undermined.
The event was organised by Amadiba Crisis Committee, Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA), and Oxfam SA, and attended by local chiefs and experts in mining issues such as the Benchmarks Foundation.
“Today as we gather to commemorate the life of a selfless and gallant leader of his people. We do note the many challenges still lying ahead of us in respect of the draconian laws and dirty tactics that our own government is forcing upon us and playing just so we lose the will to live and finally submit to them as helpless slaves at the table of a cruel master,” said MACUA Secretary-General Kholisile Dingiswayo.
The speakers representing communities expressed frustration at government’s willingness to side with mining companies against the communities.
“Our land and livelihoods were placed in the hands of evil men and women who only saw in them a mean to personal wealth accumulation,” Dingiswayo added.
“Mining has and continues to kill hundreds of people across our country directly and indirectly. The past four years has seen the police killing miners in Marikana, then it was Cde Bazooka, followed by the unaccounted for victims of the Lilly Mine disaster and the five-year-old boy Tshepo who remains buried in the Goldmine dumps in Jerusalem (Ekurhuleni).
“In spite of all these, the government is still forging ahead with its plans to dispossess us of the little land still left in our hands for the benefit of the white monopoly capital. We must refuse for that to happen. We must fight with everything in our power to defeat these evil intentions and if needs be, we must master a country-wide rebellion in defence of our land.”
Bazooka Rhadebe’s murder came after an escalation of over 15-years old violence and intimidation against the community in this poverty-stricken mining area.
An Australian-owned mining company MRC which has been at odds with the community over its mining license has denied any link to the murder of this activist leading a campaign against its plans to mine titanium from the sand dunes of the beautiful Pondoland.
A year later the situation is still volatile with more activists living in fear, and the community remaining divided. Mining has temporarily stopped owing to the fight the community put.
The local municipality occasionally delivers water to the residents of this area. However, they refused to deliver water for the commemoration event of Rhadebe’s death, claiming its because he was against their plans for development in the area.
As Oxfam SA we stand behind and support the activists and movements that fight for their economic emancipation.
Speaking at the event in Xolobeni, Extractives Head Thembinkosi Dlamini said: “Free, prior and informed consent, an established human right principle is all that the people of Amadiba demand….government must not only respect that but protect them from others who want to violate this right”.
Dlamini added that this Human Rights Day is an opportune moment for government to advocate for the right of the mourners and mining-affected communities. “Government must remember mining host communities, and how its toxic collusion with the mining industry in hiding Social and Labour Plans and their annual compliance reports fails them in an attempt to secure a fair share of the proceeds from mining on their land”. “As the portfolio committee on Mineral Resources go on a road trip to a dress issues of artisanal mining, we call on them to facilitate the release of Zama Zamas incarcerated for exercising their right to work and withdraw all pending charges and initiate instead a dialogue process leading to the regulation and licencing of artisanal mining per the requirements of the Africa Mining Vision,” Dlamini added.
No one has so far been prosecuted for the killing of Bazooka who was shot eight times in the head in front of his son, by men who posed as police, according to eyewitnesses.
However, the struggle for control of the Land in Pondoland is not new. There was always, and there is still, a struggle against oppression and for human rights, ever since the Pondo Revolt 1959-62, even before that, and until now.
The struggle of the people in the rural areas seems always forgotten by the government. In Pondoland it is believed that the land is for all of who live in it to share and benefit also future generations. The Amampondo, like many in the mining communities, believe that the land and minerals should never be ‘private property’.
For more information and interviews contact:
OxfamSA Senior Media and Communication Manager.
Mishack Mbangula, MACUA – 074 977 5588