Community members and organisations explain why they don't want titanium mining in Xolobeni:
Proposed Xolobeni titanium mining
Different groups of people in our community went to Richards Bay where this kind of mining [open cast titanium mining] is being done already. The following is what they witnessed:
1. Cracking and falling of residential houses without any compensation offered by the mining company or the government.
2. Abnormal diseases brought on human beings, some of them killing many people. Most common are chest diseases caused by dirty and dusty air.
3. Grazing fields devastated and finished off for good.
4. The contamination of water resources and air by poisonous pollution and dust coming from the mine.
5. Fruit trees that have stopped bearing fruits. Too much dust comes from the mine. The mine probably interferes with the pollination through dust pollution and through other chemical effects.
6. All in all, there is unbearable dust pollution coming from the mine. The amount of dust falling onto the human settlement is unbearable. All houses are covered in dust and the households cannot hang laundry outside.
7. Promises were never fulfilled once the mining licence was issued.
8. These people in Richards Bay would like the mine to be closed, but it is difficult now. No one listens to them.
9. When people complain to the government about the problems caused by the mine, nothing happens. If they protest or go to the mine to voice their grievances, the government sends police and the plaintiffs are locked into jail.
And here are the problems that we in the Umgungundlovu communities have experienced since the mining talks started here. The problems have been brought to us by those trying to bring mining to Xolobeni.
These people no longer respect the Komkhulu ['Great Place' where the community meetings of all the five Amadiba villages are held].
They do not attend the Komkhulu meetings.
They hold their secret meetings over night.
Some people are being bribed to support the mining application.
Attempts to get people who are against mining arrested is a common occurrence.
This debate divides communities and families. There are no more cohesion and no stability in the community. It has become abundantly clear to all that this proposed mining is causing infighting in this community.
There is an organisation called XOLCO (Xolobeni Empowerment Company), which claims to represent the people. No one knows how this organisation was formed and when. It was not formed at Komkhulu or in consultation with the tribal authority of this area. Locals did not participate.
The mining company says [in the previous application, defeated in 2010] that they will not move anybody. This means that people will move away themselves and at their own cost when they can no longer stand the dust.
On the issue of graves, the mining company says [in the present prospecting application for the Kwanyana block - one of the five mining prospect areas along the 21 km long strip] that they had discovered three graves. We know that there are hundreds of graves in this area [Kwanyana], some of which are more than sixty years old. This qualifies them for being protected by law (The Heritage Act). We do not want our forefathers graves exhumed.
It is clear that once we agree for mining to occur, we will experience similar problems as are the communities in Richards Bay. We grow food, we breed and have animals and our water comes from rivers and streams.
They talk of rehabilitation after mining, but scientific studies suggest this would be almost impossible to do here. We will have problems for ever.
If you look at the [previous] application, there is no real financial benefit for the community affected. A licence is given to an outsider company at a price of R2000 [the application fee]. We will live with the problems caused and the dust for the rest of our lives. Why is our government selling us so cheaply?
This kind of development is not good for us. We did not ask for it. It is just imposed and forced upon us. All these years we voted for the ANC. But when we complain about all these problems, it is as if we are a people without a party.
We raised these concerns with Minister Buyelwa Sonjica. She said that she understood. She promised to come back to us to discuss solutions that will help us. To this day she has never come back.
The Mbizana municipality does not want to come and listen closely to our problems. The only time we see them is when they accompany ministers, as is the case today. We voted them into office during all these years, but we are being abused and they don't care about us.
We don't know how we are supposed to show once and for all that mining is not required here.
Our tribal authority and The Kings Council are aware of our problems. They do support that we stand up for our rights. We even appealed to Human Rights Commission to intervene in the situation. They conducted their investigation.
They found that we do not agree with this project and that it is not wanted here. We hoped for a break, but these people [the mining applicants] did not stop provoking us. It looks like they want us to fight each other and to have all the divisions perpetuated.
Human rights belong to the people, not to the government. The government doesn't seem to understand that. If we do not want something, we must be listened to. The government has a responsibility to unite us instead of trying to use their influence to cause more divisions.
The N2 Toll Road
..We know that it was not the government's idea to build the N2 from the start. It was an unsolicited bid from the big construction companies to the government to build a pay-road or toll road and collect money for 30 years. The government was asked to build bridges. Why is our government selling us to these big corporates, for them to enrich themselves by collecting money from us? We do not want that. Even if the government says it will not toll it, we don't want this road. In the Gauteng province pretty roads were built. No payments were to be made by public traffic but now they are tolled. The expensive toll gates were made later. We do not want anything like that here. ..
Development: We are told that this road is bringing development to us. We need to know what kind development this is. Why is this development not discussed with us so that we may see if this is the kind of development we want? We do not know who owns this development and whose interests it will be serving. It is our right to discuss and decide on what kind of development that is brought here.
Clearly, human rights have not been considered. We know that there will be relocation of homesteads, graves, forest plantations, grazing lands and cultivation lands. There has been no discussion on these and how people will be compensated for these losses. Our traditional leaders have no idea about which homesteads and the number of homesteads that are to be relocated. There has not been any identification of what specific villagers who are to be moved by this road. ..
Secretary of the Mgungundlovu Tribal Authority (Section 24 [coastal] of the Amadiba area) at iKomkhulu laseMgungundlovu (Xolobeni) - The Great Place of Mgungundlovu.
Amadiba Coastal Community Development Association Trust (The ACCODA Trust).
Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC).
Abasuswa baseLurholweni - The land claimants of Lurholweni.