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The Herdsman

The Herdsman

  • Author: Ilan_Pomegranite
  • Date Posted: Nov 8, 2017
  • Category:

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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