Communities prevent mining site visit

Fuleni communities are doing everything in their power to prevent the mine from going ahead

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Fuleni communities opposed to Ibutho Coal’s proposed Fuleni mine barricaded the main road into Ocilwane with rocks and burning tyres, preventing a mining site visit from taking place – photo by Rob Symons

By Tamlyn Jolly

Zululand Observer April 26, 2016

MORE than 1000 Fuleni residents blockaded roads leading to the site of Ibutho Coal’s proposed Fuleni mine last Thursday, to force the Regional Mining Development Environmental Committee (RMDEC) to abort its site visit.

The main road to Ocilwane was blocked with rocks and burning tyres by a group of community members described as being ‘angry but well behaved’. Ocilwane is the village thought to be most affected by Fuleni mine, should it go ahead. With assistance from the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation (MCEJO) and researchers from the Centre for Civil Society (CCS) at UKZN, the residents were eventually persuaded to remove the blockade. Once debris was removed, the people surged onto the road and held up a banner saying, ‘We will not move’. After a stand-off, RMDEC members were eventually forced to abort their site visit.

The site visit was to familiarise RMDEC with the area prior to last Friday’s meeting at which Interested and Affected Parties (IAPs), with their lawyers, were to substantiate their objections to a mine at Fuleni.

A peaceful protest by MCEJO had been planned for the site visit, after which protesters would have handed a memorandum of grievances to RMDEC. However, owing to the barricade and subsequent abortion of RMDEC’s site visit, the protest did not take place.

‘MCEJO’s focus has been on the seven villages directly affected by the proposed mine. It was heartening to discover today how many villages and people do not want the mine,’ said Phila Ndimande, co-convenor of the Ocilwane demonstration.

You shall not pass!

Once the barricade had been removed, the protesters formed a human chain and blocked the road, carrying this sign – photo by Rob Symons

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