Human Rights Commission accused of taking sides with mines

Primary image caption: Mapela residents protested outside SAHRC offices yesterday. Photo: Ihsaan Haffejee

Residents of the Mapela villages near Mokopane in Limpopo protested on Wednesday outside the Johannesburg offices of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC)‚ which they say is ignoring their demands and favouring the mining companies operating on their lands.

Community members held placards calling for the resignation of senior SAHRC management and sang struggle songs outside the commission’s offices as a meeting between community leaders‚ the mining companies and the SAHRC continued inside.

No money yet from Lily Mine The family of one of the three workers who are trapped at Lily Mine Barbeton say they never received the money they were promised last year. 

Meshack Mbangula‚ national coordinator of Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA)‚ was among the protesters. He said a variety of issues affecting the community had been raised over many years with the SAHRC but the commission had failed to act.

SAHRC spokesperson Gail Smith said the commission was currently in discussions with the Mapela community members who picketed. “We do not have any further comment at this stage‚” she said.

“Because the mines have money we see that the SAHRC has been ignoring the plight of the community‚” said Mbangula.

SA mines improve safety recordThe number of people killed on South African mines fell 5% year on year to 73‚ with large gold and platinum mines the largest contributors‚ Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane said on Thursday. 

“These people have been disenfranchised by the presence of these mines. Some of them have been displaced from their lands. The mines don’t employ people from these communities and their water resources are being polluted and diverted by these mining companies‚” said Mbangula.

“We have engaged the mines but made no progress and so we came to the SAHRC in the hope that they would fulfil their mandate and protect the human rights of these communities‚ but they are also failing us.”

Christopher Rutledge of ActionAid SA said his organisation had been working with the community since 2006 when complaints were first brought to the SAHRC.

“Despite providing the commission with two in-depth studies which clearly outline human rights violations in Mapela‚ the SAHRC has consistently chosen to protect the interests of Anglo over the interests of the community‚” said Rutledge in a statement released by ActionAid SA.

In 2016 Anglo American Platinum signed an agreement with Mapela traditional leaders‚ but residents protested that the leaders did not represent them.

Anglo American Platinum declined to comment for this article.

The story originally appeared in GroundUp

- TMG Digital/GroundUp



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