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Xolobeni residents rally support in a bid to block Mantashe’s visit

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The people of Xolobeni have reached out to various influential bodies to rally support for their decision to block Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe from visiting the area.

The residents of Xolobeni village in the Eastern Cape have reached out to civil society organisations, political parties and President Cyril Ramaphosa to block the planned visit from Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe on Thursday, 25 April 2019. The Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) has also appealed to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to intervene.

This area is currently in a raging dispute on whether to allow mining activities to go ahead. The residents have accused Mantashe of trying to force them to allow an Australian company, Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources (TEM), to mine on their piece of land, despite the High Court in Pretoria barring the minister from doing so.

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During Mantashe’s last visit to the village in January 2019, a consultation meeting ended in violence as chairs were flung across the room and police had to intervene by using stun grenades to restore order. Although the community has vehemently expressed his unwelcome, Mantashe is set to visit the village on Thursday, 25 April 2019. ACC lawyers Richard Spoor Attorneys said their clients were unaware of this planned visit and only learnt of it through a tender advertisement and not directly from Mantashe.

In a statement released on Monday, 22 April 2019, ACC spokesperson Nonhle Mbuthuma asked various influential bodies, including President Ramaphosa, to tell Mantashe to stay away from Xolobeni.

“Mantashe cannot hide behind the word ‘development’. He is not the minister of economic development. As he knows very well, the Department of Economic Development is already working with us on the ground together with the departments of tourism and of agriculture.

“Our ancestors fought for this land in the 1950s against the state. We are still fighting for this land today, against the state. Land is our livelihood, our identity and our dignity. We will never give our land away,” the ACC said.

In November 2018, the North Gauteng High Court ruled that the mineral resources minister may not grant mining rights without the consent of the community and the people directly affected by that mining right. Mbuthuma said Mantashe should first appeal this judgment before he visits the village for a new mandate.

Abenathi Gqomo
[email protected]

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