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The Herdsman
November 82017

Herdsmen from the Morapaneng, Dithabaneng and Ditwebeleng communities are concerned for the safety and wellbeing of their livestock. Since the arrival of mining operations in the area, they have seen a steady deterioration in the health of their cattle, with death and miscarriage an ongoing concern. “We used to enjoy plentiful grazing land and clean drinking water – there were no problems,” muses Thobajane M Phineas, 55, from Morapaneng, recalling the pre-mining days. “But immediately after they started to mine, fences were erected and roads were laid, destroying trees that our animals relied on for shelter during times of sunshine and rain.”

The herdsmen believe the main source of their woes is what appears to be a polluted stream that flows from Twickenham Platinum Mine’s Hackney Shaft. Channelled by muddy banks well-trodden by cattle hooves, this lifeless body of water flows into the nearby Motse River. A once thriving and powerful tributary that provided much-needed drinking water to man and beast alike across the Sekhukhune region is today no more than a small, murky rivulet. Salt deposits line the rocks in the shallows as people eke out small quantities of sulphate-laden water for cooking and drinking. Thobejane and his fellow herdsmen have no other choice but to accept that platinum mining on their land is here to stay. “We ask if the mine can build us a camp where we can kraal our cattle, give them a safe place to stay and provide containers of clean drinking water so they never again drink the water flowing from the mine.” Thobejane sighs, “We are sick like the cattle”. He is uncertain what the future holds. But he knows their lives and livelihoods are at great risk.

A cow lies dead in a polluted mine stream, Ditwebeleng, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

A cow lies dead in a polluted mine stream, Ditwebeleng, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Mishack Mampuru, 68, currently owns 15 head of cattle – 5 dead, 1 miscarriage

Mishack Mampuru, 68, currently owns 15 head of cattle – 5 dead, 1 miscarriage

Philemon Mabiletse, 70, currently owns 0 head of cattle – 20 dead, 0 miscarriages

Philemon Mabiletse, 70, currently owns 0 head of cattle – 20 dead, 0 miscarriages

Polluted mine stream, Ditwebeleng, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Polluted mine stream, Ditwebeleng, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

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Sealane Village
November 82017

Josphat’s mining career was suddenly cut short when a tragic accident underground in 2006 left him paralysed. It was his first job in the mining industry and he had only been working for eight months fitting “stock timber” as a contractor for SAN Contracting Services at Bokoni Platinum Mine when a rock fell and broke his spinal cord. He has since been supported by government-funded “workman’s compensation” but longs to get back to work again. For a number of years he has tried to get a job doing computer-based data capture at Bokoni Platinum Mine but nothing has materialised. “I have tried engaging with Bokoni Platinum Mine in terms of employment. The doctor on his final medical report stated that I can be employed as a paraplegic.” Limited medical support and ongoing financial difficulties are a constant worry for Josphat. “I have a wife, she is not covered by anything, so I am worried in my condition – how am I going to feed my family if I am not working and the money I am getting every month doesn’t meet our needs?”

Josphat Phasha, Sealane Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Josphat Phasha, Sealane Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

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In the early summer heat, young children from the Phashaskraal Mosotsi Village are drawn to the tranquil waters of a nearby abandoned open cast pit owned by Bokoni Platinum Mine (and operated by subcontractor Benhaus Mining), in which an inviting pool of water has collected. It was here that tragic events unfolded on Monday, 31 October 2016 when Kamogelo Makgopa, 15, sadly drowned. A short walk from the community, the site has been unfenced and unmanned since operations ceased a number of years ago following the death of a resident of the same village who was struck by a rock during blasting. The community remains troubled by the loss of life that has beset them since mining operations began, and describe how only after the drowning, a small fence was swiftly erected around the open cast pit.

Water-filled open cast pit, Phashaskraal Mosotsi Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Water-filled open cast pit, Phashaskraal Mosotsi Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

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Moroke Sekutlong Village
November 82017

Located at the foot of a rocky outcrop, with panoramic views of the valley bellow, the village of Moroke Sekutlong looks out over the once mighty Motse River. Bishop Marebane Samual Lebasa, 93, and his wife Marebane Magdeline Lepou, 76, have lived in the village for most of their lives. Magdeline, who was born here, remembers a time when their family depended on farming; vegetables were readily available, harvested daily from the land they shared with the community. No one went short of healthy food and clean water.

Change came in the form of an announcement from King Mgadimane Ntweong: their farming land had been acquired by Anglo American, who would use it to establish the Twickenham Platinum Mine. According to Bishop Samuel, with no involvement in, or even knowledge of, the negotiations that had taken place, each household received a once-off amount of R8000 – compensation for the fact that everything they, and generations before them, had relied on for their lives had been taken away. To survive, they’ve built small allotments in the garden of their homestead, growing a selection of vegetables for market, including beetroot and tomatoes. Neighbours help where they can, sharing mealie meal and other basic food products. “We struggled but I always made a plan,” says Bishop Samual. “I used to lay bricks but that was a long time ago. Now I am too old.”

Bishop Marebane Samual Lebasa, 93, Moroke Sekutlong Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Bishop Marebane Samual Lebasa, 93, Moroke Sekutlong Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Sekgantsho has lived in Moroke Sekutlong Village her whole life. She and her three children rely on water collected from the Motse River for cooking and washing. Sekgantsho now believes that the small quantity of water she manages to collect from the stream is polluted, and has no choice other than to buy water. “My family and I are very sick from drinking this water, we all suffer from diarrhoea.”

Sekgantsho Phahlane, 38, Sick from drinking the water, Moroke Sekutlong Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Sekgantsho Phahlane, 38, Sick from drinking the water, Moroke Sekutlong Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

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Morapaneng Village
November 82017

Aloe Castanea – known as “Sekgopa” by locals – is used in traditional medicine for various ailments. It grows on the hills and rocky outcrops of the Sekhukhune region of Limpopo Province. Over the years, Humphrey Mokwala of the neighbouring Ga-Mashabela Village has seen a noticeable change in the region’s flora and fauna. “Since the mines came here, I can tell you there are certain trees on our ploughing field that have changed in structure, and are now brownish in colour. This may be a result of climate change, which is influenced by the mine. Chemicals from the smelter or refinery as well as underground operations may be affecting our trees. This has a negative impact on our livelihood as certain trees are utilised for medicinal purposes within our community. I haven’t seen our government taking the climate change programme to the communities – why can’t they do that? People of this area don’t know about climate change at all.”

Aloe Castanea, Morapaneng Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Aloe Castanea, Morapaneng Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

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Monametsi Village
November 82017

Sefiti, 48, born in Monametsi Village, has lived in the shadow of the mines for most of his life. In 1995, he began work as a winch operator at Bekoni Platinum Mine’s UM2 vertical shaft, where he would remain for the next 16 years. Sefiti was skilled in his operation of the winch, but in 2011, a split-second occurrence resulting from the smallest oversight saw his hand wrenched from his arm and his life left in ruins.

In the intervening years the healing process has been slow. Pain and discomfort, and at times, depression, have plagued him. Sefiti remains frustrated and angry at what happened. His treatment at the hands of his employers hasn’t helped, and he is particularly saddened that no mine personnel ever came to visit him in hospital. “The problem with the mine,” he says, “is they don’t care about their workers, they only want you if you are physically strong. Once injured or crippled they don’t care about you.” After receiving a letter terminating his employment, Sefiti approached the CCMA, who took up his case, and won an agreement from the mine that they would keep paying him a monthly salary up until retirement. Sefiti is currently in training for another job at the mine that involves, among other activities, packing overalls.

Sefiti Johannes Makgopa, 48, Monametsi Village, Tipeng Section, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Sefiti Johannes Makgopa, 48, Monametsi Village, Tipeng Section, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Passionate and outspoken, espousing views that some might deem controversial, Tshepo, 39, is a self-described AMCU “worker organiser” at a platinum mine in the area. When the Marikana strikes erupted in August 2012 on the Western Limb near Rustenburg, the air of unrest spread across the platinum belt, with mining communities as far as the Northern and Eastern Limb taking up protest action of their own. Feeling compelled to show solidarity with his comrades and fellow miners, Tshepo helped transport AMCU committee members to the unfolding strikes that had already taken the lives of several striking miners, police and security personnel. He believes this is what may have led mine officials into thinking he was a threat to mining operations.

A few months later, on his arrival at work, Tshepo says that he was seized by mine security and paraded as a criminal and enemy of the mine. In a state of bewilderment, Tshepo assured them he held no mining property in his possession. Mine security and HR personnel proceeded to question Tshepo about the guns and explosives allegedly in his possession that were stolen in 2012 at Marikana and were to be used in an attack on the mine. He protested his innocence to no avail, as police waiting outside the gates took him into custody. After searching his vehicle and finding nothing, they drove to his home, where his wife and three-month-old child were resting. Tshepo describes how they “barged in” and how “with my hands tied, they beat me”. Dogs and police searched top to bottom. Again, no guns or explosives were found, but they did find marijuana and alcohol. Tshepo was taken to the mine barracks where he was choked and forced to write a letter stating his plans to bomb the mine. He was threatened with arrest for possession of marijuana – a charge he was willing to accept – but refused to sign the letter.

Soon after the incident, Tshepo opened a case against the officers, but nearly four years later, no charges have been brought against them. Indeed, in 2016 police and mine security targeted his home once again, this time damaging property and beating a tenant who was renting a room in the house. No explanation was given as to why they were there or what they wanted.

Tshepo Highlight Khoza, 39, AMCU Worker Organiser, Monametsi Village, Monametsane Section, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Tshepo Highlight Khoza, 39, AMCU Worker Organiser, Monametsi Village, Monametsane Section, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Semose was about to start his morning shift as a Rock Drill Operator at Bokoni Platinum Mine when he received the news: his little boy had been knocked over on the Brakfontein mine road. He arrived at the roadside to find his son Mogomotsi Shauwn Maimela, 13, and nephew Chester Mokgotho, 17, lying on the ground. They were both pronounced dead at the scene. Mogomotsi and Chester had been on the way to collect water when a large dump truck, transporting stone from Bokoni’s Brakfontein Shaft to the mine’s plant, had collided with them. There were whispers that the driver of the vehicle had been drinking at the time – something Semose was unable to confirm as the truck’s driver was nowhere to be found.

The following day the family met with mine authorities, who assured Semose and Katlego that the mine would help pay for the burial of the two boys. They covered the cost of food, caskets and tombstones including a Sangoma (traditional healer) who would transfer the souls from the scene of the accident to their home. Additionally, a day of counselling was provided to the grieving parents. None of this did much to ease their nightmare. Both feel more could have been done to help them during those trying times – no compensation was offered nor have there been any follow up visits from mine management since the children’s burial.

Nearly five years later, closure still escapes them. Although police and forensic investigators were at the scene, there have been no reports or findings about the incident, and still no word on who the driver was and whether he was arrested or even questioned. Semose needs answers; he has made regular trips to Mecklenburg Police Station over the years, all of them fruitless. The road itself continues to be a hazard. Community members feel that without appropriate road signs, barriers, and pedestrian footpaths on this major thoroughfare, they and their children remain at risk.

Semose Phunacks Mokgotho and partner Katlego Maimela, Monametsi Village, Mokgotho section, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Semose Phunacks Mokgotho and partner Katlego Maimela, Monametsi Village, Mokgotho section, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

House cracks, Monametsi Village, Mokgotho Section, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

House cracks, Monametsi Village, Mokgotho Section, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Cracks have appeared in Semose and Katlego’s house due to mine blasting nearby. This is a concern for all communities across the platinum belt where mining operations have been set up in close proximity to people’s homes.

Mine waste disposal, Monametsi Village, Malengine Section, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Mine waste disposal, Monametsi Village, Malengine Section, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Community members of Monametsi Village gather to collect old support beams used in the foundations of underground mining tunnels. Families have become reliant on this waste for heating their homes and cooking.

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Lucy’s life has never been the same since the arrival of the mines, something she has come to accept. She was relocated along with 42 other surrounding households, and now finds the Brakfontein mine road cutting through her land. The community are concerned for the safety of their women and children, many having been attacked or raped while collecting wood and water, or travelling to school. The bush that surrounds the villages is known to harbour often desperate and unsavoury migrant workers drawn by the prospect of employment on the mines. Without money to pay for electricity, for many women in the community wood is a necessity. But the risks of venturing out to collect it have seen them resort to waiting for the daily delivery of old support beams used in the foundations of underground mining tunnels. Amidst the scuffle to retrieve a few solid pieces from the platinum waist disposal dump truck as it tips its load, Lucy remarks, “Mining has some disadvantage. We get our water and wood from the mine, but there is no choice in life with mining – we must accept.”

Lucy Kodibona, 64, Monametsi Village, Malengine Section, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Lucy Kodibona, 64, Monametsi Village, Malengine Section, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

The Brakfontein mine road, Monametsi Village, Malengine Section, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

The Brakfontein mine road, Monametsi Village, Malengine Section, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Community members of Monametsane Section remember a time when water was plentiful. Now the Monametsane River is all but dried up, a small green pool of algae sitting atop this once-thriving valley where water flowed all year. Selowa, a community activist who has lived in the area his whole life, takes a drink from the murky pool, shared by cattle and humans alike. As he puts it, “What other choice do we have?”. Selowa says that since the establishment of mining operations in 1998 the water has gradually disappeared.

Monametsane River, Monametsi Village, Monametsane Section, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Monametsane River, Monametsi Village, Monametsane Section, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Themogo and Zidan, Monametsane River, Monametsi Village, Monametsane Section, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Themogo and Zidan, Monametsane River, Monametsi Village, Monametsane Section, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

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Modimolle Village
November 82017

Moletelo and his friends sat huddled around the small fire they’d built to keep warm in the early winter morning while fetching the day’s water supply. The flames gently crackled and embers warmed their hands and feet, as they fed the fire with branches and twigs to keep it going. Suddenly there was an explosion. Moletelo, his sister, and a neighbourhood friend were hurt in the explosion. After being rushed by ambulance to a nearby hospital for treatment, they were taken to the police station where they made a statement. Maletelo describes how the children that joined them that morning had been picking through the piles of mine rubble lining the roads that meander through Modimolle Village, and had found disused wires amongst the crushed rock. They had proceeded to try and burn off the plastic coating so that that they could use the wire to make toy cars. In actual fact, these wires were live fuses for detonating explosives, carelessly discarded by mining operations.

For a time Moletelo’s grades were affected by the trauma of that morning. Bad dreams and pain from his injuries have troubled him for a number of years, but things have slowly improved. Children are now warned to stay clear of the rubble.

Moletelo Mabunela, 13, Nyakelang Modimolle Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Moletelo Mabunela, 13, Nyakelang Modimolle Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Childhood sweethearts Eustina Matsepane and Joseph Kapudi Mampuru grew up on the same street in the small rural village of Modimolle. By 1997, Eustina, 15 at the time, and Joseph, 18, decided they were going to share their lives together, and the following year they welcomed their first child, Thabang Actavia Matsepane, into the world. Soon after, Anglo Platinum established the Twickenham Platinum Mine in the area, and Joseph, an electrician by trade, sought employment on the mine. The couple saw in the mine an opportunity to make a better life for themselves, and provide for their growing child.

Regrettably it was not to be. Employment opportunities remained scarce in the community even after mining had been in operation for a number of years. People from the surrounding villages felt frustrated that the mine had encroached on their land without giving them much in the way of reciprocal benefits. In September 2013, they marched on Twickenham Platinum Mine. Their objective was to deliver a memorandum to mine management, listing their grievances and calling for more employment oppurtunities.

Eustina remembers the day clearly. “The police arrived and said we must stop what we are doing. It was at that moment teargas was fired into the crowd.” Panic ensued, the crowd began to disperse, everyone running in different directions. Losing his partner in all the confusion, Joseph found himself struggling to breathe. He had inhaled teargas and began to vomit. A friend helped him to his mother’s house where he continued to vomit violently. Those gathered round him soon realised he was in a critical state and arranged for a vehicle to take him to Mecklenburg Hospital. Sadly Joseph would never make it to the hospital – he passed away in the back seat of the car. “I felt so much pain during that time,” Eustina recalls, though her voice is steady. “Even now my son has no one to look after him, his father used to look after him but now I am stranded.”

Eustina Matsepane, 34, Modimolle Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Eustina Matsepane, 34, Modimolle Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

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Mantjakane Village
November 82017

Masekgaole inherited vast swaths of land from his father, yet all of it has been lost to a nearby platinum mine. Without waiting for a response or allowing for any form of negotiation, Masekgaole was offered R10 000 to permit a ventilation shaft to be built on his property – directly affecting his livelihood and immediately restricting him from cultivating the farmland he once owned. Now retired, he lives with his wife Malekgale in a small homestead riddled with cracks caused by mining explosions, and suffused with the smell of pollutants emanating from the ventilation shaft nearby. “This ventilation shaft is very close to us, immediately after a blast, the smell comes over to us – that smell, we don’t know how dangerous it is to our lives. No one is trying to monitor our lives…”

Masekgaole Ephraim Mphethi, Mantjakane Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Masekgaole Ephraim Mphethi, Mantjakane Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Cattle bones, Mantjakane Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Cattle bones, Mantjakane Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Masekgaole Ephraim Mphethi is seeing many of his cattle dying off for no obvious reason. He believes polluted water from the mine may be to blame.

Malekgale Agness Mphethi, Mantjakane Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Malekgale Agness Mphethi, Mantjakane Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Malemane Herry Tsau inspects the cracks to his home, caused from explosives being detonated at a nearby platinum mine. Malemane and his son Peter have approached the mine on several occasions to voice their grievances, to no avail. Offers of employment as a form of compensation are commonly promised; like many others, Malemane and Peter are still waiting. This delay tactic continues to entrench divisions between the mine and the people that share the land.

House cracks, Mantjakane Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

House cracks, Mantjakane Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Home made bricks, Mantjakane Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Home made bricks, Mantjakane Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Youth without employment, Maphanga Supermarket, Mantjakane Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Youth without employment, Maphanga Supermarket, Mantjakane Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Board games, Maphanga Supermarket, Mantjakane Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Board games, Maphanga Supermarket, Mantjakane Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

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Magobading Relocation
November 82017

Lettie Sitole, 67, stands amongst the ruins of her home in the Makobakobe Village. A faint, eerie hum drifts over the landscape where her descendants first settled in the 1800s. Birds don’t sing here anymore; the sound is the steady drone of mining machines. Around her lie the broken remains of the once thriving Makobakobe community, persuaded off their land with false promises and high hopes. Makobakobe is one of five villages (Maotsi, Botshabelo, Monametse and Dikganong are the others), to make way for Anglo Platinum’s Twickenham Platinum Mine. Consultations began in 2002, with the relocation finalised in 2004. Lettie was among 97 other households relocated to the sprawling, dust-red, rock-strewn, water-deprived township of Magobading, 20km away from their ancestral land.

On arrival, they found that the stands they were promised were considerably smaller and markedly inferior to their previous homes. There was no space to accommodate a kraal for their livestock and the layout offered little in the way of privacy. But the badly built hostel-like accommodation was only the beginning. Over the past few years, the community have faced a constant stream of challenges and setbacks, including the ongoing legal conundrum of having no title deeds to the land where they now reside. According to Jerry Tshehlakgolo, chairperson of the “Magobading Relocated Community”, Anglo Platinum has failed to implement The Social and Labour Plan (SLP), drawn up to ensure the provision of basic services to the relocated community. He also says that the once-off compensatory payment issued to those that gave up their agricultural land has proved insufficient and left many without the livelihood that has sustained them for generations, and that the mine’s initial promise of employment for two members of each relocated household hasn’t materialised. The relocation of graves at the hands of Naledi Development is another punch to the stomach the community is trying to come to terms with. Family members were dug up and then reburied with scant attention to cultural traditions or local sensitivities, a relentless demolition of a people’s heritage. Jerry recalls how families huddled to witness the disturbing scenes, as the mechanical arm reached into the ground breaking soil then bone. He quivers at the thought of seeing his father – buried six months earlier – and then his younger brother – buried three years earlier – lifted from the earth. “This is the bad side of Anglo,” he says.

The grievances of the community continue to mount, their loss and heartache compounded, while the inaccessible corporate machine that has overturned their lives spins a web of legal formalities that hold up any meaningful redress. Yet with nowhere to go, there is very little they can do but continue to find ways to challenge the mine on the promises they made and have not kept.

Lettie Sitole, 67, Relocated from Makobakobe Village to Magobading Township in 2003, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Lettie Sitole, 67, Relocated from Makobakobe Village to Magobading Township in 2003, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Community members claim that false promises and unscrupulous treatment have bred suspicion and frayed relations between community members and the mine. This has been exacerbated by claims that identification documents of local community members are forged to allow for the employment of people from other parts of the country. This gives the impression that local communities are benefiting from mining activities when in actual fact they are not.

Tumelo of the relocated Magobading community describes how, in 2013, after applying for a job on the mine and passing all the relevant tests (including the “Dover Test” to operate machinery underground and a psychometric test), he was led to believe his application was successful. A number of years later, with no job having materialised, a friend approached him to share some surprising news: he had seen Tumelo’s name on a list of people in employment at Anglo Platinum’s Twickenham Mine.

Humphrey Mokwala of the nearby Ga–Mashabela Village tells a startlingly similar story. He says that when community members apply for jobs on the mine, they provide a curriculum vitae and proof-of-residence (which includes a stamp from the tribal kraal), and that these documents are then forged – the applicant’s name is deleted and replaced with the name of the person the mine wants to hire. What transpires is that people from as far as Cape Town, Johannesburg, Zimbabwe and Mozambique are hired by the mine, though they are identified via forged employment documents as being from the local communities directly affected by mining operations. For a number of years, Humphrey has asked for a list of the recruits within the Ga-Mashabela area, but the mines refuse to furnish it. He claims bribery is rife within the HR practices of most mines in the area, and that purchasing a job with the mines is common practice.

Tumelo Makgopa, 31

Tumelo Makgopa, 31

Jerry Tshehlakgolo, 59

Jerry Tshehlakgolo, 59

Jerry Tshehlakgolo, chairperson of the “Magobading Relocated Community” has continually challenged Anglo Platinum’s Twickenham Mine on various issues relating to the relocation rights of the community, employment on the mine, and the desecration of his and his fellow community members’ ancestral graves. Internal division and mutual suspicion plague the community, with members at odds with each other over the rightful representatives of the newly formed Magobading Township – which draws people from different locales in the area. The disputes centre around potential kickbacks from mine officials, with the jostling for position undermining the pursuit of common goals and the betterment of everyone’s lives rather than just the few at the top. Jerry himself has seen his home vandalised and burnt to the ground in late 2016 over the leadership conflict.

Isaac sits at the site of the once thriving Maotsi Village. Residents were relocated in 2003 and the village is now the location of Twickenham Platinum Mine’s Hackney Shaft.

Isaac Mahlakwana, 59, Relocated from Maotsi Village to Magobading Township in 2003, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Isaac Mahlakwana, 59, Relocated from Maotsi Village to Magobading Township in 2003, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Ntoyi Dorah Maphori, 71, “It was better because there were no mines here”, Dilokong area, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Ntoyi Dorah Maphori, 71, “It was better because there were no mines here”, Dilokong area, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

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Ga – Mashabela Village
November 82017

For Humphrey, and others like him from Ga-Mashabela and the surrounding Sekhukhune region, the question is always the same – why doesn’t the community benefit from the mines that operate here? Of the many issues facing communities directly affected by mining, one that leads most discussion is employment. In this regard, Humphrey’s suspicions of unscrupulous wrongdoing on the part of the mines are not unfounded. Previously employed as a senior officer in the tribal kraal, Humphrey has had access to various documents supporting his claims. He points to a stack of papers. “You see this file here – it is the Social and Labour Plan for the mine, giving them license to mine. No one is monitoring this document. Most communities don’t even have access to it. We got this copy through an NGO – even after Anglo Platinum had warned the NGO not to share it with the community.” Humphrey is outraged that the terms of the agreement remain unfilled, and that the people who are directly affected by the mines continue to be sidelined, unconsidered and uncared for. “How can you write something about us and not for us, how can you do that?”

Humphrey Mokwala, Community Leader, Ga-Mashabela Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Humphrey Mokwala, Community Leader, Ga-Mashabela Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Youth playing football, Ga – Mashabela Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Youth playing football, Ga – Mashabela Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

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Ga – Kgwete Village
November 82017

With the global platinum market surging in recent years, the Greater Tubatse Local Municipality has prioritised the development of the platinum-rich Dilokong Corridor, with a view to generating infrastructure investment, job creation and other economic opportunities for communities in the region. Phindile Sekome, 23, who shares a small homestead with her grandmother and younger sisters in the Dilokong Corridor in the village of Ga-Kgwete, welcomes development in the area, but not to the detriment of her home or her family’s wellbeing.

In 2004, Lebalelo Water Association were contracted by government to lay approximately 180kms of pipeline for the supply of raw water to mining operations in the area. One of these underground pipes would run adjacent to the homes of five families in the Ga-Kgwete Village, among them, Phindile’s grandmother’s homestead. Phindile recalls how explosives were used to break through the rocky ground, resulting in irreparable damage to property in the vicinity. Burdened with having to patch up the crack-riddled walls, the affected families voiced their grievances to local leadership and the company responsible.

After years of gridlock, negotiations with Labelelo Water Association finally began in 2016, with the successful construction of five new homes that same year. Although Phindile is grateful for their new home, she remains unsettled. Questions persist as to whether the new home built on her grandmother’s land is legally theirs. With no documents to prove this and her grandmother’s current frail state, she worries where, after her passing, they will live if forced to move. And thirteen years since an extensive network of water-carrying pipeline was laid under her feet, Phindile continues to collect the family’s daily supply of water from the communal borehole several metres behind their home.

Phindile Sekome, 23, Ga-Kgwete Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Phindile Sekome, 23, Ga-Kgwete Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

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Ditwebeleng Village
November 82017

For the women of Morapaneng Home Community Based Care, their lives centre on identifying those that are sick, frail and in need of medical treatment. Building relationships with the local clinic, they write referral letters, prescribe medicine, and encourage community members to be tested for high blood pressure, diabetes and HIV/Aids.

Naughty finds that there are some who live a secret life. HIV/Aids is frowned upon, and sufferers are viewed with fear and suspicion in the staunch traditional communities that remain the backbone of those living in the villages of the Sekhukhune Region. Myths about the disease proliferate. The sense of shame is inescapable and many retreat into denial or deception. She says women are particularly at risk. “Men who arrive to work on the mine, they have a lot of money and women are struggling; there is no work, we are unemployed, and so we sleep with these men who in return give us financial security.” Without knowledge and understanding of the risks involved many women contract sexually transmitted diseases, fall pregnant, and on closure of the mine, are left with fatherless children and diseases they know very little about.

Nurse Magdeline Modibane, who heads up the Ga-Mashabela Clinic, says the situation isn’t getting any better. “I started working here in 2010. HIV/Aids was scarce, but since then I have seen a steady increase. Women accommodate men who work on the mines, who promise to provide for their family in return for sex.” For Nurse Magdeline and Naughty the challenge now is to raise funds in the hope that they can distribute information and develop workshops, raising awareness of the risks women continue to face in this predatory landscape.

Ditwebeleng Village

Naughty Thobejane, 49, lives in Ditwebeleng (Working areas include Ditwebeleng)

Ditwebeleng Village

Mathabatha Lillian, 37, lives in Morapaneng (Working areas include Modimole and Ditwebeleng)

Ditwebeleng Village

Moeketsi Mining Accommodation, Ditwebeleng Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Ditwebeleng Village

Cattle are herded across the now dry Motse River, Ditwebeleng, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

Much needed rain floods the low-lying land that surrounds the power lines supplying electricity to Anglo Platinum’s Hackney and Twickenham Shaft. The strategically positioned cables and adjacent tar road cut through the Merensky and UG2 Reef outcrop, hampering farming activities in the area.

Twickenham Platinum Mine is established on the Twickenham, Paschaskraal and Hackney farms on the Eastern Limb of the Bushveld Igneous Complex in the Northern Province. At current planned production rates, the mine’s resource base is sufficient to sustain production for more than 30 years. “At full production some 2200 people will be employed on the mine,” read a statement announcing the establishment of the mine on 6 September 2001. “Apart from the direct benefits that will flow from this employment… the mine will create opportunities for other economic and small business development in the area.”

Ditwebeleng Village

Power cables, Modimolle Village, Limpopo, Eastern Limb

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