Cape Town – On the 10th anniversary of the Marikana massacre, frustrated residents from mining-affected communities in the North West, Free State, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo gathered outside Parliament in Cape Town on Tuesday to demand mines assist communities in the areas they exploit.
In a show of desperation and urgency of the harsh indignities they face, from health risks to crime, 30 volunteers from Mining Affected Communities United in Action (Macua) and Women Affected by Mining United in Action (Wamua) vowed to camp outside Parliament until they and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) committed to meaningful engagement with them.
In a press release, Macua and Wamua said: “In the wake of the recent brutal rape of eight young women, the country has once again been reminded of the harsh indignity suffered by those who live close to and work in mining operations.
“This cruel and violent act brought to the surface the full extent of the toxic reality of mining in this country.”
Voice raspy from rallying the crowd, Macua national co-ordinator Meshack Mbangula said they had been requesting meetings with the DMRE and the energy minister for the past two years but those requests fell on deaf ears.
Mbangula said they handed over a petition with 50 000 signatures of affected community members in 2020 to Parliament to put pressure on the DMRE and ensure mining laws and regulations take into account their struggles.
Despite promises of action and numerous memorandums and emails, Mbangula said nothing was delivered over the past two years, yet their communities continued to suffer under the lawlessness that runs rampant in the mines.
Volunteer Nicholas Legodi, from the North West, said they travelled for over 20 hours for this protest.
“We inhale polluted air. When you wake up in the morning, you find dust all over your house and car which has numerous negative health impacts. When will this stop?” Legodi said.
Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe’s spokesperson, Nathi Shabangu, said the department and minister were open to hearing the plights of all stakeholders in the mining sector in their mission to grow and transform the energy and mineral sector in the country.