Mining companies against communities: These families are victims of scramble for land

Community activist Lucky Shabalala faces charges of assault and intimidation after leading a protest at Ikwezi Coal Mine. His lawyers and the Kliprand community believe the charges are just a smokescreen and an attempt by Ikwezi to intimidate those who raise objections against human rights violations by the mining company
Community activist Lucky Shabalala faces charges of assault and intimidation after leading a protest at Ikwezi Coal Mine. His lawyers and the Kliprand community believe the charges are just a smokescreen and an attempt by Ikwezi to intimidate those who raise objections against human rights violations by the mining company

Ernest Ngwenya’s home of more than 40 years may soon be reduced to rubble.

Already it’s surrounded by rubble from the Ikwezi Coal Mine in Kliprand, a rural settlement near Danhausser in KwaZulu-Natal.

The area, whose residents rely on subsistence farming, is in the throes of a scramble for coal by Ikwezi, which has demolished homes, displaced families and dug up graves to expand its mining operations.

A pair of pants drying at the temporary home of a family displaced by mining reflects the gloomy mood in the Newcastle area. Pictures: Lucas Ledwaba/Mukurukuru Media

“I think we will be removed as time goes by,” said Ngwenya, whose family faces the daily challenges of black dust from the coal, noise and dust from trucks passing by his gate.

“I don’t know what will happen. We are just confused,” he said.

Trucks pass through the village causing dust. Coal dust rises from the nearby dunes putting the health and lives of the people and animals at a health risk

Dudu Hadebe, whose home was demolished last year allegedly with an inappropriate court order, now finds her family squatting on a relative’s piece of land near Osizweni in Newcastle.

They were never compensated for the loss of their home, furniture, cattle and of their dignity.

Gugu Hadebe's family homestead was demolished by Ikwezi Coal in 2018 to make way for their operations

Phumelele Elizabeth Hadebe also finds herself in a similar situation, living in a shack on land she doesn’t own after her home was demolished last year.

All these families are victims of a new scramble for land which pits mining companies against communities whose traditional way of life is under threat from mining activities.

Kliprand kids are seen playing near the mine

“Life has changed a lot. We are devastated. The mine has brought us misery. I’m suffering, even the kids are not coping at school. They are sick too,” says Hadebe on the impact of her forced removal from her home.

The family homestead of Dudu Hadebe was demolished by Ikwezi Coal Mine last year
Ikwhezi Coal's operations are causing serious challenges to the Kliprand community which has lived here for over 40 years
Dudu Hadebe’s family has not been compensated and is now squatting on a piece of land owned by a relative

This is part of Ledwaba’s upcoming book on land reform and land politics in the new South Africa

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