Attorney arrested after bumping heads with Mantashe, marching at mining meeting

2018-09-24 13:26
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An attorney representing Eastern Cape residents opposing an application for a mine in Xolobeni, was arrested at the weekend after marching with community members during a meeting with Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe.

Richard Spoor was charged with "incitement" under the Riotous Assemblies Act and released with a warning on Sunday afternoon, attorney Johan Lorenzen confirmed to News24 on Monday.

He said Spoor was expected to appear in the Bizana Magistrate's Court on Tuesday. 

Mantashe had visited the village in the Mbizana local municipality, on the Wild Coast, on Sunday to engage with residents on issues emanating from an application by Australian company Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources (TEM) for rights to mine the titanium-rich sands.

The Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) launched a court battle against Mantashe's department and TEM, which was heard in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria in April.

Concerned by how much engagement with residents would actually take place, ACC members marched to the venue to add their voices to the debate.

In videos posted by the committee, residents are seen singing and dancing as a line of police officers in riot gear form a line in front of the marquee.

According to ACC, tear gas and stun grenades were fired.

In another video, Spoor tells Mantashe: "Don't call me a liar. I am trying to help you and if you work with us, we can work together and solve problems."

Mantashe is heard telling Spoor not to disrupt the meeting.

In response to queries on the meeting, the mineral resources department said the event proceeded as planned and it was unfortunate that a group "were instigated to disrupt and suppress discussions".

"In short, discussions were positive, all parties present were given an opportunity to present their views either for or against mining, including a representative from the Amadiba Crisis Committee," it said.

"Following this visit the Minister now has first-hand knowledge and understanding of the issues in Xolobeni and will be able to take a more informed decision moving forward."

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