An attempt by Ibutho Coal and its consultants to piggy-back on a municipal gathering on the morning of 20 May 2015, to open a new crèche in Novunula, was thwarted when angry residents threatened to disrupt the event unless Ibutho Coal was told to leave.
The Mfolozi municipal officials instructed Ibutho Coal to leave the meeting together with their EAP, Marietjie Eksteen, of Jacana Environmental, and Lizinda Dickson of Naledi, the company that took over the public participation for the EIA process.
Novunula is one of six villages that will be directly affected affected by the mine.
It appears the iNduna for Novunula, who openly supports the mine, invited Ibutho Coal to his village despite the strong opposition expressed by the residents to the mine.
This is the second time in less than a week that the Fuleni community has chased away Ibutho Coal, Jacana and Naledi. That meeting on Sunday, 17 May 2015, also had to be called to a halt after 40 minutes.
Over a thousand Fuleni residents gathered at Ntuthunga 2, for a meeting called by Ibutho Coal to present information about the EIA report. The reason given for the meeting was that Marietjie Eksteen, the EAP who heads Jacana Environmental, is under pressure to submit the EIR by this coming Friday, 22 May 2015, if she is to meet the deadline set in terms of the EIA regulations.
For over a year, GET and its Community and Wilderness Alliance (CAWA), Ezemvelo and other IAPs have raised concerns about the lack of engagement and consultation with the affected communities.
When the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DEDTEA) accepted the still seriously flawed amended Final Scoping Report on 14 April 2015, GET, MACUA GroundWork and Ezemvelo immediately objected. One of their main concerns was the inadequate consultation with the affected Fuleni communities.
People who attended the meeting on Sunday came from Novunula and the other five villages that Ibutho Coal only recently admitted would be affected by the proposed Fuleni open cast mine, viz. Ntuthunga 1 and 2, Novunula, Ocilwane and Fuyeni and Makhwezini. All documents from Ibutho Coal and Jacana, even the Scoping Report, mentioned only the first four villages as being affected.
The EIA regulations require the public participation process to be run and managed by the EAP Marietjie Eksteen, in her role as an independent consultant. Instead the Chairman of Ibutho Coal, Mr Locksley Pege, attempted to answer the questions from the floor.
Report by Sheila Berry
Representing GET, CAWA and Save Our iMfolozi Wilderness