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By Alfred Moselakgomo | Jul 16, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

ABOUT 500 houses in a poor Mpumalanga village have been damaged as a result of mining activities in the area.

Villagers complain that since N'komati Anthracite started mining in the area many houses had collapsed or cracked.

N'komati Anthracite was granted a licence by the Department of Minerals and Energy on February 18 1998 to mine coal between Madadeni and Sibange .

But villagers claim they were not consulted and were surprised early this year when their village was turned into a mining site.

A community leader said the state awarded N'komati a certificate to mine without conducting an environmental impact study.

"When we complained to the company for not informing us about the mine, they said they had discussed everything with our chief, Eva Mkhatshwa," Enock Khoza said.

"It has also come to our attention that Mkhatshwa was given R2,5million by N'komati Anthracite to buy her silence," he said.

But Roelof Hugo of N'komati Anthracite insisted that the correct procedure was followed before they started mining.

He said "a huge amount of money" meant for the community had been paid to Mkhatshwa. He declined to reveal figures.

"We bought the land from her as a community representative and, yes, it was a very good offer.

"We followed procedures before mining and I am surprised the community is unhappy," Hugo said.

Mkhatshwa refused to comment yesterday, saying the matter was between her and N'komati Anthracite.

Hugo disputed the residents' claim that about 500 houses had either cracked or collapsed as a result of blasting in the area.

Villagers said they had informed the company about this and it promised to compensate the affected families.

"They made a list of all the damaged houses and promised to repay the owners but failed to give us time frames," Khoza said.

But Hugo told Sowetan yesterday: "It's not true that we are responsible for the damaged houses because we have not started blasting yet."

Sibongile Nkosi, whose house was turned into a pile by the blasting, said she would sue the company for damages.

"They sent a guy who introduced himself as Mahlalela to assess the damage, but did not tell us what his company would do to repair the damage," she said.

Alfred Sambo said when he confronted N'komati after his house had developed cracks, he was told that compensation had been paid to the chief .

Residents said they had asked the public protector and Mpumalanga government to intervene, to no avail.


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