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