Date: Jun 12, 2020

South Africa: Mining rights activists and lawyers must not be silenced

In response to the defamation cases brought by Australian mining interests against six South African critics and heard in the Western Cape High Court this week, Shenilla Mohamed, Executive Director of Amnesty International South Africa, said:

“Amnesty International South Africa stands in solidarity with the activists and their attorneys as they defend their constitutional right to freedom of expression.

We also remind the plaintiffs that the court ruling of 22 November 2018 still stands. It outlined that the government cannot issue a license for proposed titanium mining in Xolobeni without the consent of the community. The Xolobeni community still has the right to say no.

Silencing, censoring and intimidating critical voices cannot be tolerated, and the right to public participation in decisions that affect communities must be upheld.

These cases are of utmost importance not only for the Xolobeni and Lutzville communities but for mining-affected communities across South Africa, and must be dismissed.”

Background

The plaintiffs in the case are Perth-based Australian mining company Mineral Commodities Ltd. (commonly referred to as MRC), its chairman, Mark Caruso, MRC’s South African subsidiary company Mineral Sands Resources (MSR), and one of the companies’ BEE partners, Zamile Qunya.

MRC has been attempting to develop a titanium mine at Xolobeni in Pondoland since 2008, and has also been operating a mineral sands mine, Tormin, on West Coast beaches near Lutzville since 2014 through the subsidiary MSR.

Both communities have opposed mining on their land for over a decade.

 
 

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

Mienke Steytler, Media and Digital Content Officer, Amnesty International South Africa: +27 (0)64 890 9224; mienke.steytler@amnesty.org.za