“Well-known and deeply respected Somkhele activist, Mr Gednezar Dladla, passed away in the early hours of this morning after a brief battle with cancer.”
Mr Gednezar Dladla’s association with the Global Environmental Trust (GET) dates back to 2011, when he requested legal assistance after being arrested and intimidated for calling a so-called illegal meeting. He has been a staunch friend and supporter ever since and has been unfailing in his opposition to the expansion of the Somkhele mine and the proposed Fuleni open cast mine, both on the boundary of the iMfolozi Game Reserve. His life is proof that mining does not enrich rural communities but destroys sustainable livelihoods, well-being and health and leaves people more impoverished than before mining commenced.Sinegugu Zukulu, from Sustaining the Wild Coast, saw in Mr Gednezar Dladla the qualities of leadership, unflinching courage and deep respect, that were the hallmarks of this man throughout his life.
Gednezar Dladla worked in Johannesburg staying in the male hostels, where he was elected as a councillor, and demonstrated outstanding leadership skills. When he retired and came back home, he took it upon himself to lead his community in the fight against injustices inflicted by the Somkhele Anthracite open cast mine.
Through his outstanding work as an activist, he was invited to serve as a representative of Somkhele community in the national structure called MEJCON-SA (Mining and Environmental Justice, Communities Network), establised under the auspices of UCT’s Centre for Environmental Rights (CER). As deputy chairperson, Mr Genezar Dladla was articulate and passionate in his struggle against mining, and destruction of livelihood. He was a very religoius man and a follower of the Church of Nazareth, popularity known as the Shembe Church. He married Jabu Mamtshali and they have three sons.
Samatha Hargreaves from WoMin, a growing movement of African woman united against destructive resource extraction, describes Mr Gednezar Dladla as a remarkable man with a beautiful spirit. He played a critical role in the Somkhele struggle and always acted in great solidarity, being fully supportive of women’s organising efforts.
Juliana Thornton, representing the Mupo Foundation, described Mr Gednezar Dladla as a man of quiet dignity, wisdom and courage, who campaigned tirelessly for the rights of his community to live in a healthy environment.
Somkhele, KZN, South Africa and the world has lost a great man.