Court rules in favour of Lesetlheng community

The Mahikeng High Court in the North West has ordered Pilanesberg Platinum Mine to halt operations on the Wilgerspruit farm near Sun City. This follows an agreement between lawyers representing the mine and those representing the Lesetlheng Community.

The community wants the mine to halt all its activities and restore possession of the farm to it. Lesethleng community bought Wilgerspruit in 1919 but at the time - they were not allowed to own land.

The farm was registered in the state's name and held in trust for the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela tribe. Since the discovery of platinum residents say they've been forced out of the ancestral land due to expanding mining operations.

But today they say they have been vindicated. Bakgatlha ba Kgafela Communal Property Association, Mpole Pheto says, "Naturally the people of Lesetlheng will have to claim damages for the unlawful usage of their land. There is a very big pit that has been developed in that piece of land without their consent."

An important settlement was reached,the mine has agreed to remove some of its fencing and to give local farmers' access to their land. It also agreed to not threaten or intimidate community members in the area.

Lawyers will now start the fight for compensation of the land in Wilgerspruit.

Lawyers for Human Rights Louise Du Plessis says, "We either have to settle with the mine now on proper negotiations, not that the mine must only regard these people as a few farmers but alternatively we will have to go to court.'

But traditional leaders association Contralesa wants the area's traditional leader acknowledged.

Contralesa leader Kgosi Kesekwaile Motlhabane stated that the land in the traditional communities is under the traditional leader and he holds custody for the benefit of the whole community.

"In other words no group of people would come and say they have to benefit in the land."

Date of publication: 
4 September 2015
SABC Television