This is a letter by a community member, addressed to the editor of the Mercury in response to an article by Tony Carnie – “Nearly 1 000 face removal by mine”. It was published in the Mercury on June 29, 2015.
Dear Mr Editor
I am writing to say thank you to Mr Tony Carnie for his article Nearly 1 000 face removal by mine in the Mercury on 23 June 2015 explaining to the Fuleni residents what the future will be if the coal mine moves into our villages.
He has told us more than the Jacana consultants who have had many years to consult with us but have chosen to ignore us.
We have been to visit the Somkhele coal mine and we have seen how the people are being treated there. People are living in cracked houses built for them by the mine in a very small area close to the mine. They hear the noise from the mine day and night.
When the wind blows there is black coal dust making the people suffer from asthma and other diseases. The mine takes all the water. Their cattle are thin and dying because of the coal dust on the grass and poisoning the water.
The mine has disrespected the graves of their ancestors and not paid the cow and goat they promised for each grave. If they cannot even pay so little to the people then how will the people get any of the R350-million Somkhele says in the newspapers it has given to them in shares?
Yes, some people have become rich from the mine, but the people living on the ground know they will not see any of this money. Where are all the jobs promised to the people by the mine before it started? One man who fought to have the mine had a job for six months then lost it. Now, for eight years he has been crying.
We live far from Somkhele mine and already we are suffering the impacts of this coal mine. It is more than 10kms away, but Ibutho Coal wants to put its mine 500m away from our houses. They do not care about the noise and dust affecting our health and hurting our children. This is abuse.
People who were moved to Ocilwane in 1963 were promised they would not be moved again. No one wants to move. What we have seen at Somkhele and what Mr Tony Carnie has said makes us sure we do not want the mine. What we want is for Ibutho Coal to leave us alone.
Ocilwane Village activist