Saturday , August 13 2022

VISUALIZATION: The Xolobeni community gets huge victories against mines


Community Member Steven Mdimgi. Photo: Zelda Venter / Pretoria News

Pretoria – It was joy and jubilation for the Xolobeni community on Thursday that the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, decided that the settlement should be granted by communities living on ancestral land before the government can grant approval for mining rights.

The Department of Mineral Resources can not issue mining rights without the consent of the affected people with regard to existing legislation, Judge Anneli Basson has decided.

The Cape Town Xolobeni Community, represented by the Amadiba Crisis Commission, returned to court to prevent the department from issuing a mining license for the Australian mining conglomerate Transworld Energy and Minerals (TEM) to exploit the titanium-rich sand along the wild coast.

The proposed mining area comprises approximately 2,859 hectares along the coastline of 22 kilometers long and 1.5 kilometers inside the country from the sea mark. Most affected communities live in the immediate vicinity of the proposed mining area.

Most affected people in the area are related to blood or marriage and have lived in the area for generations. They have family graves in the area and are considered as sites essential for family and community rituals.

The Umgungundlovu community does not want society to mow the land of its ancestors for several reasons, including the fact that their cattle grazing on the ground.

The community received the mining rights claim from TEM lawyers in February 2016. They were in arms because they did not agree with mining activities.

They argued that granting the right to minerals constituted a deprivation of their land. Judge Basson was totally in agreement with that. She said in the terms of the law that the community has the right to decide what should happen to their land.

"In accordance with the purpose of the informal protection of land rights (IPILRA) to protect the unofficial rights of ordinary communities previously not protected by law, the applicants in this regard have the right to decide what is happening with their land.

"As such, they can not be deprived of their land without their consent. If the land is kept in the community – as in this matter – the community must be able to consider the proposed deprivation and be allowed to makes a communal decision in terms of habits and community, whether or not they accept a proposal to dispose of the rights they have on their land, "the judge said.

It ordered the Minister for Mineral Resources not to have any legal authority to grant a TEM mining right and to obtain a full and informed consent from the community as a landholder before granting any right to exploit mining.

This judgment has been recognized as an initiative for other communities in a similar situation.

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