Mining houses operating in the eMalahleni area in Mpumalanga have been accused of not employing locals as stipulated in their licenses. Unemployed youth in the area have confronted the mining companies to demand that they be considered for jobs.

But their interactions with the companies have allegedly led to the mines opening cases of intimidation against them.

South Africa’s unemployment rate was at 29% in the fourth quarter of 2019. Just over 6.7 million South Africans actively looking for employment remained jobless. The country’s unemployment rate reached its highest in more than a decade.

In the video below, SA unemployment sits at 29%, the highest in 11 years. 

In July 2019, Statistics SA revealed that the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga had the highest unemployment rates in the country.

The eMalahleni Joint Structure spokesperson Obama Masango says the companies’ decision to open cases against them will not deter them.

“We cannot be quiet while we have SLP around the mines. Look eMalahleni is the biggest in terms of GDP of this country contributor. As structures of this particular city or community of Nkangala Region, we have realised without any fear DMR is not playing its role of oversight where it supposed to say ‘you have made an obligation as a mine that you must meet one two three, four and five.’ DMR is just a licensing authority which is also selective; we have questions around that as young people.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa once said youth unemployment was a national crisis that demanded innovative and co-ordinated efforts to address the problem. The locals accuse the mining houses of employing people from outside eMalahleni.

Mike Mashego who is unemployed has accused Screbante Concrete of sidelining the community.

“We are faced with the big problem and is a serious challenge that is affecting our local community. Here at Screbante, they started currently a big project which has four complexes of Glencore. The number of employment has escalated to 168 people but none of our local people was called or hired. So we came here to intervene and ask questions about what criteria they used when hiring people…and there’s hearsay that some of the people were called from far away.”

Screbante has denied allegations that it has been employing outsiders. The mine’s Human Resources Manager, Solomon Kubheka, says first preference is given to former workers who were retrenched when the company went under.

“We had an agreement that we gonna call back the people that were retrenched. We did call the people, although we did not call everyone and we gave a certain number that is now available to the community to be employed from the community. We’re going to freeze the positions and we’re going to give it back to the community under eMalahleni Joint Structure and they are going to be shared to all the structures that affiliate to the structure.”

Members of the eMalahleni Joint Structure are expected to appear in court on Monday for allegedly intimidating bosses from mining companies.