Residents feel done in by mine

2015-05-11 15:12
(Nielen de Klerk, News24)

(Nielen de Klerk, News24)

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Polokwane - Disgruntled residents of Atok in the Sekhukhune platinum region have blocked the R37 road between Polokwane and Burgersfort, expressing concerns over Bokoni Mine and Community Trust failure to reveal how community equitable shares are utilised.

Bokoni Platinum, a subsidiary of Anglo Platinum, is being accused of undermining and ignoring community demands despite agreeing earlier this year to resolve the issues, they claimed.

Residents said since the mine started operation, the community has not benefited from the mining operations despite the company's pledge to comply with South Africa’s mining charter.

"We are very angry and tired of them not wanting to help develop our community while it is harvesting our wealth on our fields," community spokesperson Malope Lesufi told News24 on Monday.

He said that they were supposed to meet the mine management on May 7, but were then told they are not a legitimate structure.

“How can we be an illegitimate structure while we have signed a declaration with them earlier this year, and with the Fetakgomo municipality, Limpopo Office of Premier and Department of Mineral Resources?”

Barricaded roads

On Monday, residents took to the strategic roads leading to the mine, barricading them with stones, timber and burning tyres, demanding a meeting with the company.

Lesufi said they want the company to explain how the community’s 2.1% equitable share is utilised, what it means in monetary terms and how they are complying with a social and human resources development plan.

Last year, the community also barricaded the road in a protest that lasted for more than three days, and resulted in the traditional leader’s house and vehicles being set alight.

During Monday's protest, the roads being blockaded also affected other mines in the area, as trucks and other vehicles had no means of access.

One protester said that the community's wish was to see their area developed and to own shares like the Bafokeng tribe in North West.

According to the protester, the mines and local traditional leaders “thinks building a community hall and houses for chiefs, and paramount chiefs are key developments”.

‘Restore order’

Local police spokesperson Tebele Kgofelo said police were patrolling the road in an attempt to restore order.

Atlatsa Resources Corporation spokesperson Prudence Lebina said they were not aware of the demands, but would try to engage with the community to establish what the issues were.

"We have not received a formal demand, and we don’t know what it is that they want. We hope to find an amicable solution," she said

Lebina said the day shift employees did not report for duty because of intimidation.

The company said any disruption affected its ability to generate revenue.

Read more on:    polokwane  |  protests

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