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Relocated mining village rejects 'bully-boy's' offer

By unknown | Feb 05, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Joel Avni

Joel Avni

Anglo Platinum is allocating R5 million to repair infrastructure at the relocation village of Magobading in Limpopo, but the community is rejecting the offer as a sop to stave off far more extensive claims.

Ralph Havenstein, the chief executive, and at least two other senior executives visited Magobading last week after Sowetan published an investigation that found horrific conditions at the village for people displaced by the company's mining activities.

Company spokesman Simon Tebele said last week: "Anglo Platinum is extremely concerned about the health threat posed by the damaged toilets and water systems."

Havenstein said: "We have investigated the immediate needs of the Magobading village and [are] pleased to make a further R5 million available to assist the municipality in consultation with the residents to address services and infrastructure repair.

"We also plan to set up a small BEE company, staffed by Magobading residents, to monitor and maintain the Enviroloo toilet system."

Sowetan had reported how the bacterial-digesting system had failed in every house and that a stench hung over the entire village. Writhing heaps of fly-maggots infested every home we visited.

But residents said yesterday they would drive off any workers who come to repair the failing infrastructure in their village.

Jerry Tshehlakgolo, chairman of the Magobading Crisis Community, said: "Anglo has far more to answer for and still refuses to talk to us.

"We have asked them to write everything down in black and white and then call us to discuss our grievances with us and our lawyer. Let's sit and negotiate."

Tebele said yesterday that the company will not discuss matters with the community's lawyer, Richard Spoor.

Anglo Platinum has sued Spoor for R2million, accusing him of defaming the company by referring to it in terms such as "corporate thugs".

Spoor said yesterday: "This is the problem with Anglo [Platinum]. We are not accepting any unilateral interventions. They need to sit down and talk about the community's problems."

He spelt out three issues the community want to discuss.

"Let the mine respect the community's rights, including its right to dignity and its land.

"They must be given fair compensation for the harm they have suffered and will suffer."

And the third demand is "an equitable share of benefits generated by mining on the land" from which they have been displaced.

He said it had been the company's policy for the past three years not to discuss matters with disaffected communities displaced by mines that generate billions of rands in profit each year.

"Discussion is not in their character. They are bully boys. Even the Department [of Minerals and Energy] can't persuade them to sit around a table with communities."


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