The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse said in a statement it was pleased that after seven years of investigations and applying pressure on public institutions, the directors of Aurora Empowerment Systems, namely Khulubuse Zuma, Zondwa Mandela and Thulani Ngubane, appeared in the Springs Regional Magistrate's Court on Tuesday morning.
Zuma, Aurora's chair, is former president Jacob Zuma's nephew and Mandela, who was the mines managing director, is former president Nelson Mandela's grandson.
According to Outa, the accused face charges including that of environmental damage at the Grootvlei gold mine. Other charges are that the directors used water unlawfully, failing to comply with the conditions attached to the water-use license issued by the Department of Water and Sanitation; as well as failing to abide by a compliance notice.
Aurora was in charge of the Grootvlei gold mine near Springs from October 15, 2009 to May 26, 2011 and, during this time, water sources became polluted.
Outa supporters protested outside the court on Tuesday, calling for a speedy trial. The case was postponed to July 15, to allow the state to locate a fourth accused.
"While we expected the postponement, we are eager to see the accused successfully prosecuted for their hand in destroying the environment and the community that depends on it," said Yamkela Ntola, Outa's Water and Environment Portfolio Manager.
"The NPA’s decision to prosecute after seven years is a small step towards taking on the politically powerful."