Fear, intimidation and attack on Somkhele community members

Mr Dladla and Somkhele activists holding SOIW banner in support of Fuleni community

Mr Dladla and Somkhele activists holding SOIW banner in support of Fuleni community

Last Friday, 5 February, the Dubelenkunzi community were attempting to hold a meeting to elect representatives to continue the work of the deceased Mr Gednezar Dladla. Earlier a group had visited the police station in Mtubatuba to ask for protection because of threats from certain people in the community who support Induna Gumede, who benefits personally from the mine and activly intervenes to silence the voices of his community. When the meeting started (was about to start) a taxi arrived carrying Induna Gumede and his supporters from Dubelenkunzi who started beating up the people. Several people had to go to the clinic to be treated for their injuries. Attempts to contact the police to come to the assistance of the people went unanswered as no one was answering the phone. Community members are very unhappy about the lack of police response to their calls for help.

Sabelo Dladla, Mr Gednezar Dladla’s son, informed us that his mother is being unfairly and selectively discriminated against by a certain sector of the Dubelenkunzi community. The family are struggling after the unexpected death of Mr Dladla last November and, in December, Mamtshali Dladla started a small business selling chips to bring in some income. She was stopped from doing so by people who said she was in mourning and that she was not allowed to work. Similarly her position as a teacher at a local creche was terminated for the same reason.

Sabelo explains that nurses and other employed widows in the community are allowed to continue working. They wear their mourning clothes at home and in the community and then change into their nurses’ uniforms at work.

Sabelo has been shocked and saddened by the attitude of certain people in his community who are blind to the good work his father did, and his absolute commitment to improving the lives of Somkhele residents by protecting the environment, and exposing such issues as water pollution, and many other negative impacts from the open cast coal mine on their doorsteps.

Today at 13h30 there will be another meeting at Dubelenkunzi to attempt to elect community representatives. A group of people are planning to meet at the Mtubatuba police station tomorrow morning to insist on police protection.

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