Stun grenades and flying chairs: Chaos breaks out at Mantashe's Xolobeni mining meeting

Chaos erupted in Xolobeni in the Eastern Cape at the end of a "consultation" meeting between the community and Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe on Wednesday afternoon.

Community members, who are against the issuing of a titanium mining licence to Transworld Energy and Minerals (TEM), a subsidiary of Australian mining company Minerals Commodities Limited (MRC), attended the meeting in their numbers.

In one of the videos posted on the Amadiba Crisis Committee's (ACC) Facebook page, a group of uniformed police officers can be seen beating up one of the community members who had attended the meeting, which turned violent shortly after Mantashe addressed the community.

Police also fired stun grenades as community members fled from the back of a huge white marquee, picking up and later slamming chairs to the ground.

It is unclear what caused the police to act.

Richard Spoor, an Eastern Cape attorney who was arrested last year after marching on a venue where Mantashe was meeting with residents, also posted on his Facebook account that the "third coming of Gwede at Xolobeni, ends badly".

Spoor said that the locals "do not want mining on their land" and questioned why Mantashe was pushing ahead with the plans to allow MRC through TEM to mine in the area.

In an interview with eNCA, Mantashe attempted to play down reports that the meeting ended in chaos.

"The meeting has gone as planned because we came here to give a report of what has happened since the last meeting. We did that..." said Mantashe, cutting his speech short as the sound of a stun grenade went off - something which eNCA reporter Siphamandla Goge tweeted.

Independent survey commissioned

Fin24 reported on Wednesday that Mantashe announced that the Department of Mineral Resources would commission an independent survey in Xolobeni.

Mantashe said the survey would be consistent with the ruling of the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on mining in Xolobeni and that "if the community says no, there will be no mining", but if it said yes, there would be.

"On the basis of the outcomes of the survey, we will then take a firm decision on the way forward. If mining goes ahead in Xolobeni, it must be sustainable and coexist with tourism, agriculture and other economic development initiatives," Mantashe said.

"Whichever right-owner is granted the licence to mine must also adhere strictly to the provisions in the MPRDA (Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act) and Mining Charter, including implementation of social and labour plans," Mantashe said.

READ MORE: Mantashe announces independent survey on mining in Xolobeni

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