Date: Nov 22, 2019

South Africa: Government must respect Xolobeni community’s right to say no

Today marks one year since the North Gauteng High Court ruling which found that the government cannot issue a license for proposed titanium mining in Xolobeni without the consent of the indigenous community.

Executive Director of Amnesty International South Africa, Shenilla Mohamed, said:

“The court ruling last year was a victory for the people of Xolobeni, who have long fought for their right to say no to mining on their ancestral land. However, one year on, the community is left living in limbo with mining not yet off the cards.

“The judgement sent a clear message that multinational mining companies cannot trample over people’s rights in the pursuit of profit. It was not only a win for the Xolobeni community but for communities across the country who are fighting to protect their land, heritage and culture.

“Furthermore, human rights defender and Amadiba Crisis Committee spokesperson Nonhle Mbuthuma’s life is consistently at risk simply because she has stood up for the rights of her community.

“The time is now for the government to respect the community’s right to say no and to expedite the judicial proceedings in a timely manner. And it must further guarantee Nonhle Mbuthuma’s safety, so that she can carry out her work and live her life without fear.”

Background

A subsidiary of the Australian mining company MRC, Transworld Energy and Minerals (TEM), had applied for the right to mine titanium in the uMgungundlovu district on the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape province in 2008.

Villagers of Xolobeni in Pondoland formed the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) in 2007 to challenge the mining project, arguing that it constituted a deprivation of their ancestral land which threatened to take away their history and livelihood.

The North Gauteng High Court ruled on 22 November 2018 that the government cannot issue a license for proposed titanium mining in Xolobeni without the consent of indigenous communities.

In 2018, 520,726 people worldwide took action for Nonhle Mbuthuma during Amnesty International’s Write for Rights campaign, calling for her life to be protected and for the Xolobeni community’s right to say no to mining to be respected.

For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Mienke Steytler, Media and Digital Content Officer, Amnesty International South Africa: +27 11 283 6000 (office) or +27 64 890 9224 (mobile); mienke.steytler@amnesty.org.za