Urgent application launched to stop mining activities in North West

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) has launched an urgent High Court application to have Pilanesberg Platinum Mines immediately halt all mining activities in Wilgespruit in North West and restore possession of the farm‚ the organisation said on Monday.

The urgent matter would be heard in the North West High Court on September 3‚ it said.

The Lesetlheng Village Community‚ represented by LHR‚ is seeking full possession‚ occupation and use of the Wilgespruit farm. This extends to having the mine cease all its operations‚ remove all fencing‚ stop restricting access and cease from threatening‚ harassing or intimidating community members.

According to LHR‚ the community has owned and farmed on Wilgespruit for more than 100 years and has established small overnight houses on the land as well as kraals for livestock while building other farming structures to sustain themselves. Over time‚ the community has sunk several boreholes and built small dams and piped water.

LHR asserts that the Pilanesberg Mine has sought to constructively evict the community by continuing its mining activities on the land without agreement from the community. This has been done through dispossessing them of their land by restricting access to water and de-bushing at least 41% of the surface area of the farm — effectively making any farming activity impossible and threatening the lives of animals on the land through starvation‚ it states.

"The farm is a major source of income and livelihood for the community and these efforts to restrict their movement and ownership of the land flies in the face of SA’s constitutional obligations. It cannot be that a community’s rightful and legal ownership can be so blatantly ignored‚" LHR’s head of the land and housing programme, Louise du Plessis‚ said.

The mining company was not immediately available for comment.

Date of publication: 
25 August 2015
Business Day