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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

SAHRC Appalled by the Murder of Human Rights Activist

12th April 2016

Attention: Editor and Reporters

The South African Human Rights Commission (Commission) would like to convey is condolences to the family and friends of Sikhosiphi (Bazooka) Rhadebe, the Chairperson of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, who was gunned down at his home on Tuesday, 22 March 2016. Mr. Rhadebe was a selfless human rights activist, who was murdered in the most cowardly way.

Conflict over the proposed mining in Xolobeni near the Wild Coast has been on-going for almost a decade with no resolution. Communities opposing to mining in the area, including the Amadiba Crisis Committee, have legitimate concerns around the impact of mining on ecotourism and the natural environment in the pristine area. Allegations have also surfaced about corruption tactics used to obtain support from communities and tribal authorities.

The mining license was first awarded to Transworld Energy and Minerals (TEM) in 2008, despite fierce opposition from affected communities. Following a hearing at the Commission, to which three Ministers, including the then Minister of Minerals and Energy, Ms. Buyelwa Sonjica, where subpoenaed to attend, the Commission compelled state departments to consult with affected communities over the proposed mining. Following an erratic process, where the license was suspended and then re-awarded, mining was scheduled to begin this year.

The Commission remains extremely concerned over the lack concerns of due process being followed in awarding the mining license and the continued concerns over the potential economic, social and environmental impacts of mining. Further, violent attacks on members of the Amadiba Crisis Committee and others that oppose the mining persists and the Commission is troubled by allegations that local South African Police Services (SAPS) is serving TEM rather than the community. Attacks on community members is hardly a new phenomenon. Late last year, an urgent interdict was sought by ward councillors and community members to prohibit pro-mining factions from threatening or assaulting those opposed to the mining. The Commission’s Eastern Cape office has confirmed that a complaint has been received from the community regarding violence against mining opponents.

This matter is linked to larger issues in South Africa around business and human rights, the lack of meaningful consultation with communities and the effective protection of human rights defenders in these communities. The Commission is happy to note that South Africa voted in favour of the landmark resolution that was recently adopted by the UN on the protection of human rights defenders. We look forward to seeing this being implemented speedily in the country.

While the Commission undertakes its own investigation in response to the complaint received, it strongly urges government to take the following steps:

Parliament and relevant state departments must review the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA), bearing in mind the aim of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and the MPRDA is to right the wrongs of the past and ensure equitable access to sustainable development of the nation’s mineral and petroleum resources. This amendment must be followed by a lengthy and adequate public consultation process.
Ensure that the investigation into the murder of Mr. Rhadebe is fair and swift and that justice is served on those responsible for such a horrendous act.
Implement without haste, the provisions of the UN resolution on human rights defenders.

ENDS

Issued by the SA Human Rights Commission
Isaac Mangena
Spokesperson
0718848273

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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