Luzuko Pongoma

Luzuko Pongoma

The granting of mining rights to Central Rand Gold by the Department of Minerals and Energy last month has predictably been good news to the company, but has not been as pleasing to affected communities within the vicinity of the gold mining project.

The mine will reopen shafts that were closed in southern Johannesburg in the 1970s, across Soweto, Bosmont and Fleurhof, and promises the creation of 4000 jobs.

Already residents and those in neighbouring areas affected by the development want nothing to do with it.

There have been no clear answers as to how the value of property will be affected by the project in Fleurhof. Consultations with communities in Meadowlands, Orlando East and West and Diepkloof have left more questions than answers. There have also been claims of divide-and-rule tactics by Central Rand Gold (CRG) in its consultations with communities.

The commitments expressed in the memorandum of understanding dated July 31 and signed on behalf of CRG by group executive Gayton McKenzie and the Affected Community Elected Representatives (Acer), hold little prospects of being honoured. The commitment in question relates to a 10 percent stake earmarked for communities.

According to a letter dated July 31, McKenzie was empowered by CRG chief executive Greg James to sign on behalf of the company.

Other agreements entered into by CRG include those with uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association and the Congress of South African Students.

CRG, which is behind the project, is currently in trial mining with full-scale mining due to begin in March next year.

Martin du Toit, acting chairman of the Fleurhof Civic Association, said the community had taken legal action against CRG to force them to stop their planned mine.

CRG also promised to build a training centre, a jewellery-making school and an industrial park, as well as start a blanket manufacturing programme in the affected areas.

Soweto residents said the mine had not built offices that would be used by both the community and the mine. They said CRG was not willing to negotiate on other matters with them.

The offices would be in Meadowlands because it was regarded as a central point for all the communities affected by the mining.

People at Fleurhof in Roodepoort said they were not properly consulted. They also said the operation would contribute to high levels of dust pollution and be detrimental to their health and might have a negative impact on their property values.

No houses are expected to be demolished as a result of the operation.

Du Toit said the Fleurhof community was not recognised as an interested and affected party, and was not notified as required by law when the application was made for a prospecting permit. He said they were not given notices to attend a focus group meeting.

"We have lodged a complaint against CRG with the Human Rights Commission over the infringement of the rights of the Fleurhof community," he said.

In another twist, Acer said CRG had not given them the 10 percent shareholding promised after receiving the mining licence.

Kenny Kunene of CRG dismissed all the allegations.