Mokopane community calls for the closure of Mogalakwena Platinum Mine

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Disgruntled community members from areas near the Mogalakwena Platinum Mine at Mokopane in Limpopo want the mine to temporarily close down until their demands are met. Two community structures, the Mokopane Task Team and the Mogalakwena Affected Communities in Action say they have served a notice to the Department of Mineral Resources through its lawyers, demanding the closure of the mine.

The leaders of the two groups are demanding an urgent meeting with both mine management and the Mineral Resources Department over a string of demands.

The groups represents dissatisfied community members from areas such as Sekuruwe, Armoede, Molekane and Skimming. They say they are the legal custodian of the land where the mine operates.

Community leader, Masekoameng Mokibane, says the management of the mine has not consulted them on plans to expand further into their land. He says there are other challenges including failure to adhere to environmental regulations.

“Our main challenges are mainly about the land around our area. The mine has expanded without our consent and this has affected areas such as Sekuruwe village. Other challenges also persist at Molekane village. The residents of Skimming are affected by blasting processes that cause harmful dust, which is threatening their health and has caused cracks to their houses,” says Mokibane.

“The residents have a right to block access to the mine. The mine has to take their rights to apply for a Section 51 notice seriously. The mine has to explain to the Mineral Resources Department that the residents have blocked them from operating at the mine,” he adds.

Relocation of graves

The community and the mines have also been at loggerheads for decades over the relocation of graves to make way for mine expansion.  Germina Semono from Armoede village, says two of her family graves were exhumed in 2018 without their knowledge.

“We had two graves of our ancestors that were within the premises of the mine. We obtained permission from the Department of Mineral Resources to enter the mine and find out what happened. We discovered that our graves had been removed in 2018. This is against our culture.”

Spokesperson for Anglo-American Platinum, Jana Marais, says while they plan to engage with host communities, legal action cannot be ruled out.

“Operations at Mogalakwena Mine has been disrupted by a small group of protestors acting unlawfully since Thursday 5 November. We continue to engage with the protestors via their attorneys. Anglo American Platinum remains open to engagement with our host communities to address valid grievances and concerns through the relevant structures. This being said, unlawful action cannot be condoned and the company will utilise legal remedies available to it.”

Meanwhile, mine employees have been prevented from entering the mine on numerous occasions since last week.

Community members blocked the main entrance to the mine. The mine retaliated by turning to the police, who allegedly mishandled some protestors.