Premier’s wife shafts law and mines

2011-10-08 16:00

A company linked to Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale’s wife unilaterally extended its mining activities to an environmentally sensitive area without government approval or the required environmental management plan.

According to official documents City Press possesses, Blue Platinum Venture, which trades as Batlhabine Brickyard, was awarded a clay mine operating licence in December 2005 for a ­10-year period which expires in November 2015.

Mathale’s wife, Mokgadi Dolly Kgohloane, is a director of the company. Other directors include Helen Moreroa, the wife of businessman Selbie Manthata, who is also the business partner of the premier himself.

City Press can reveal that despite having an environmental management plan for three portions only, Batlhabine moved into two other locations about 10km away without permission, as required by the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act.

Now some properties and crops belonging to the community of Batlhabine village near Lenyenye, outside Tzaneen in Limpopo, are being washed away by large quantities of rain water and mud that are streaming down the mountain where the brick-making company is digging a quarry.

According to the locals, a member of the Batlhabine ba Mogoboya Traditional Authority and environmentalists, the additional sites are located within 500m from the chief’s graveyard and on a hill of

“significant historical and cultural value” to the community.The community has been at loggerheads with the company since the beginning of the year.

It has complained through the Centre for Environmental Rights about the mine’s environmental impact, unpaid dividends for its shares, poor working conditions, exploitation of labourers and failure to rehabilitate or fence off the mine.

Mining inspectors shut down Batlhabine Brickyard last month after the company broke the law by failing to report the death of one of its labourers, Peter Malatjie, who was run over by a tractor on September 27.

Batlhabine community spokesperson Mashile Phalane said they wanted the government to revoke the company’s licence.

“The company refuses to listen to us and says we can go wherever we want to,” he said.

“We want the government to revoke their operating licence like they did with others.”

He added that the community had yet to receive dividends for its 25% stake in the brickyard.

Moreroa and Kgohloane referred all enquiries to company chief executive Matome Maponya, who did not return City Press’ calls asking for comment.

In earlier news reports Maponya had told The Star that the company had failed to report Malatjie’s death because it was not aware of a legal obligation to do so.

He also claimed the company did not pay basic salaries because the workers “wished” to work as and when they wanted.Workers dismissed his claims.

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