Protesting residents in Phalaborwa are continuing to disrupt traffic on the R40 to Phalaborwa and R71 to the Kruger National Park in Limpopo. They have used burning tyres and other objects to close the roads, demanding job opportunities and business contracts at the local mines. International tourists were affected as they could not drive through the area after police were unable to open the roads.
Businesses, schools and other activities have been closed in Phalaborwa and the surrounding villages. Some people were unable to go to work. Tourists going to the Kruger National Park spent the day by the side of the road.
Chairperson of Baphalaborwa Community Forum, Given Risenga, says they are against the decision by the Palabora Copper and Foskor mines to recruit workers through online applications. He says the majority of residents do not have access to the internet, and they cannot apply for jobs online.
“It’s like the mines are undermining the Baphalaborwa communities. So, we have decided to have a shutdown because they have taken a decision that all Babaphaborwa employment and business are going to apply online, which is a disadvantage for Baphalaborwa. We have an office of Baphalaborwa Community Forum. The mines should take all that information to the office and the office will distribute the information to Baphalaborwa,” says Risenga.
One of the protestors, Kabelo Mabaso, says unemployment is high at the eight villages and the township in Phalaborwa.
Mabaso says the two mines are not making any efforts to solve the problem.
“Currently, the rate of unemployment in the area of Phalaborwa is very much high, and if you can go to those communities, you will simply tell there is a problem of unemployment. Shutdown is going to prolong until further notice,” Mabaso adds.
Attempts to get a comment from Foskor Mine were not successful. SABC News could not reach Palabora Copper at the time of publication.