Zwane cautions against linking Xolobeni killing to titanium dispute

2016-04-19 22:03
Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane. (Photo: Mining Indaba)

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane. (Photo: Mining Indaba)

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Cape Town – People should not assume everybody was against the Xolobeni titanium mine in the Eastern Cape, Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane said on Tuesday as the investigation into the killing of anti-mining activist, Sikhosiphi 'Bazooka' Rhadebe, continued.

"The reality on the ground is that there are people who agree with mining in that area, [and] there are also those who are opposing it," he said at a media briefing ahead of his budget vote speech.

Zwane said a director general and two senior officials visited the area two weeks ago and they found mining was not the only contentious issue there.

"There was also taxi violence. The notion that one person has died because he was opposed to mining should not be fact until the investigation comes to a conclusion,"he said.

Rhadebe, who was chairperson of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, was shot several times and died on March 22. Committee members, Mzamo Dlamini and Nonhle Mbuthuma, said his killing was an assassination because Rhadebe was trying to stop titanium mining on their ancestral land.

Reality on the ground

Fin24 reported the committee alleged his death was linked to Australian mining company MRC's decade-long bid to mine the area for titanium.

More than 80 organisations have called for the suspension of mining licences in the area until authorities got to the bottom of the murder.

But Zwane said the reality on the ground was that not everybody was opposed to the mine. He claimed people were being "bought" to be either for, or against, mining.

Zwane said he was certain the majority would see that the mine would benefit them through jobs and other avenues. "Because that's what mining does – people's lives get better," he said.

But when taken to task by reporters who felt that Zwane seemed to have already concluded that the majority wanted the mine, he said, "If the majority don't see that, we must go back to drawing board. We can't force it on them."

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