A high-powered delegation from the Department of Mineral Resources were told in no uncertain terms yesterday that the people of Xolobeni did not want their red dunes mined.
Acting director-general David Msiza led a delegation of eight officials to the remote area yesterday afternoon for a meeting with the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) and supporters at Ngundlovu Hall at Xolobeni.
This follows the assassination of the committee’s chairman, Sikhosiphi Bazooka Radebe, last month.
Msiza said they were sent by new minister Mosebenzi Zwane, who had heard about the violence in the area in the media.
About 500 people attended, and vented their anger with the government for not wanting to listen to the will of the people.
“For more than 10 years, we have been saying we do not want mining here. How many times must we say that? How many people must die before the government listens to us? I was younger then. Today I am older but I am still saying no to mining,” former miner and villager Samson Gampe, 85, said.
No pro-miners were at the meeting.
Women wept as they told the delegation they did not want mining.
“We have 11 people who have died because of this mining. We do not want mining of this land. The government must stop it,” a resident, Nogcinile Songica, said.
ACC secretary Nonhle Mbuthuma spent 30 minutes lambasting the government and Mark Caruso’s Australian mining company MRC.
“We have a government which does not listen, which does not care about the poor and is only concerned about making the rich richer. We have a government which wants a bloodbath in this area,” she said.
The crowd stated emphatically that they would not allow people to mine in their area, “regardless of who they are”, and that Caruso should go and mine in his homeland, Australia.
Government leaders said they were there to listen and take the feelings of the meeting back to the minister.
A delegation from the AmaMpondo kingdom in Qawukeni, led by Princess Weziswe Sigcau, also lashed out at the government, saying: “This is beautiful land which can prosper with tourism and agriculture and benefit the people of Xolobeni.”