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Updated: 5 days 21 hours ago

Gooseberry Grandmother’s Daughter

Tue, 03/21/2023 - 10:10

Today we celebrate Human Rights day in SA and those heroes and sheroes committed to achieving human and environmental rights in our country, even at the cost of their lives.  

This sensitive new documentary, made by filmmaker Julie Laurenz, is about Fikile Ntshangase, the 63 year old woman who was shot dead in her home for challenging Tendele mine, near Mtubatuba in KwaZulu-Natal, on 22 October 2020. The film documents her role as an activist being discovered through the eyes of her daughter, Malungelo Xakaza, who meets with people who worked with her mother, as well as neighbours and friends. It is a story of courage and character that is important to share. 

The film has been entered into various international film festivals this year to ensure it reaches a wide audience.

The post Gooseberry Grandmother’s Daughter first appeared on Global Environmental Trust.
Categories: G3. Big Green

Prevent Coal Prospecting in Fuleni on the Boundary of the iMfolozi Wilderness Area

Wed, 03/08/2023 - 09:08

For almost 10 years, the Fuleni community has stood strong and united in defence of their land against numerous coal mining threats. The first onslaught was by Ibutho Coal in 2014, which Fuleni courageously defeated. 

Fuleni is now being threatened by Imvukuzane Resources. On 2 February 2023, the department of mineral resources and energy (DMRE) granted Imvukuzane an environmental authorisation (EA) for 55 prospecting drilling sites in the Fuleni reserve from Imvukuzane is part of Canyon Coal, a subsidiary of private investment company Menar, headed by Mr Vuslat Bayoglu. In this 30 sec clip Bayoglu lies blatantly to camera when he says the pollution control dams at Zululand Anthracite Colliery (ZAC) are lined when they are not. Bayoglu says one can see there is no water pollution at ZAC. This is not true. Acid drainage is an inevitable consequence of mining coal. ZAC is also owned by Canyon Coal and has a bad reputation for being a major polluter of the environment. The mine was responsible for poisoning the Mfolozi river in December 2021. If Imvukuzane operated in Fuleni with its environmentally sensitive land and large areas identified as critical biodiversity areas (CBAs), it would be a disaster. 

Fuleni is a large rural farming community comprising several villages that neighbour the iMfolozi Wilderness area, part of the famous Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park (HIP) established in 1895 as a sanctuary for White Rhino on the brink of extinction. These iconic creatures are again facing extinction. Available figures for January 2023 record that 16 rhinos were killed in HIP in the first month of this year. If mining commences in Fuleni, poaching syndicates will utilise the opportunity to intensify the inhumane slaughter of these defenceless animals.

In November 2018, the Constitutional Court found in favour of  the right of customary communities, like Fuleni, to say NO to mining and to decide their own developmental path. Through the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act (IPILRA) Fuleni has  the right to say they do NOT want mining and that their land is not up for grabs for prospecting or mining. 

Yesterday, 7 March, was the deadline to appeal DMRE’s environmental authorisation granted to Imvukuzane for prospecting in Fuleni. It is a most unusual authorisation. It is only approved in respect of non-invasive aspects or activities in the prospecting works programme and requires them to undertake a site-specific EIA for each borehole and compile and environmental management programme in respect of each borehole position. Therefore, the EA effectively prevents Imvukuzane from doing anything physical and invasive on site (except a survey) until it has done an EIA and EMPr for each drill site. They must then apply for an amendment to the EA. They are also required to undergo a public participation process. 

After receiving legal advice from All Rise, our legal representatives, GET has decided not to appeal the EA but to participate in the next round of the EIA together with the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation (MCEJO) and other aligned civil society organisations (CBOs). We will keep you updated. 

The current EA approves only “non-invasive aspects/activities of the prospecting work programme.” This means activities like Desktop Studies, Spatial Database Compilation, Land Survey, Remote Sensing, and airborne and ground geophysical surveys that do not disturb the land where prospecting will take place. 

The EA also requires that once the positions of the boreholes are determined, Imvukuzane must appoint an environmental assessment practitioner (EAP) to undertake site-specific EIAs and compile an EMPR for each borehole, and apply for an amendment to the EA before any boreholes can be drilled. This process must undergo a  public participation process. We are aware that most Fuleni residents and the traditional leadership of four affected villages are strongly united in opposing mining on their land. Only Novunula village, where the Induna is in the pocket of the mine, supports prospecting and any other mining related activities.

The EA also stipulates that no prospecting activities are to take place within wetland and critical biodiversity areas (CBA). Almost half of the 55 boreholes are within a CBA.

More About Fuleni and the Consequence if Prospecting goes Ahead

The Fuleni community’s traditional way of life provides residents with sustainable livelihoods. Several farmers have become very successful cattle and livestock farmers. Fuleni residents live across the Mfolozi river from Tendele coal mine, about 10kms away. Even at this long distance they are affected by coal dust, blasting and noise from the mine. They are not persuaded by the jobs that mines promise but never deliver on and that the few local workers who are given temporary short term jobs are paid a pittance. Nor are they impressed with the hugely inflated unsubstantiated monetary benefits that mines boast about while stealing people’s livelihoods, water, clean air, health, and peaceful rural surroundings. They know that the long term legacy mines leave behind shattered communities, devastated landscapes, contaminated water, dangerous opencast sites and unrehabilitated mine shafts.

Every mining onslaught impacts on the residents. It causes division that tear communities apart long before earthmoving machinery moves in and rips the earth apart. There are always pockets of people who are pro-mining. These are usually co-opted traditional leaders paid by the mine who gather vocal and violent supporters around them. Their aggressive behaviour is fuelled by promises that they will benefit from the mine. This happened on the Wild Coast where “Bazooka” Sikosiphi Hadebe, who led the Amadiba communities opposing titanium mining of the Xolobeni dunes, was murdered in 2016. It also happened in Somkhele, across the river from Fuleni, where 63-year-old Fikile Ntshangase, who was vocal in challenging the expansion of Tendele into her Ophondweni village, was shot dead in her home on 22 October 2020. Click To view the new documentary about Fikile’s murder Gooseberry Grandmother’s Daughter by Julie Laurenz.

The post Prevent Coal Prospecting in Fuleni on the Boundary of the iMfolozi Wilderness Area first appeared on Global Environmental Trust.
Categories: G3. Big Green

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