Open letter to the Minister of Mineral Resources

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South African Mineral Resources Minister: Adv Ngoako Ramatlhodi

17 December 2014

Department of Mineral Resources

Minister: Adv Ngoako Ramatlhodi

Dear Minister

Honouring Dr Ian Player’s Legacy by Securing the iMfolozi Wilderness Area

The announcement of the death of legendary conservationist, Dr Ian Player, on 30 November 2014, resulted in accolades pouring in from people worldwide. President Jacob Zuma paid special tribute to Ian Player, one of South Africa’s great sons; and the Minister Ednah Molewa of Environmental Affairs acknowledged his significant contribution to caring for the environment during his lifetime. Many of the tributes from leaders and decision makers in business and government refer to the life-changing benefits from going on a wilderness trails in iMfolozi.

Since 1 May 2014, the Global Environmental Trust has written several letters of appeal to you and your department requesting the rejection of Ibutho Coal’s application for the polluting Fuleni mine on the boundary of the iMfolozi Wilderness Area. Dr Player, who established this wilderness area in 1958, fully supported GET’s Save Our iMfolozi Wilderness campaign.

We are again appealing to you to prevent the destruction of this historic sacred area. More than 160000 people have signed petitions opposing the mine. The Fuleni communities will soon be meeting with iNkozi Mthethwa to inform him of their strong opposition to the mine.

We request that you honour the memory of Dr Ian Player and Magqubu Ntombela, his Zulu friend and mentor, by ensuring the protection of this historic wilderness area. Together they pioneered iMfolozi wilderness trails fifty years ago. Since then 100000 people have experienced the transforming power of the African wilderness. A coal mine is unlikely to produce thousands of high calibre people from all echelons of society inspired to serve the greater good. Take Sandile Masondo, a young man from Howick, KZN, who asked for the privilege of digging a deep traditional Zulu grave to honour Dr Player by providing a comfortable resting place for his body.

Many thanks for hearing our appeal. We hope a decision is made that meets international standards of best practice recommending the establishment of buffer zones precluding mining around protected areas. A decision in favour of wilderness, a life-long asset for the country and the world, is sure to be greeted with praise and enthusiasm worldwide, especially at this time.

Yours sincerely

Sheila Berry

Representing the Global Environmental Trust, the Save Our iMfolozi Wilderness campaign and the Communities and Wilderness Alliance

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