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S. Africa: Activists appear in court after protest triggered by mine's failure to engage with affected communities

‘Ikwezi Coal Mine Protest - Three Activists Arrested During Protest to Appear in Court’ 12 April 2021

Three activists arrested during a protest against Ikwezi coal mine in Dannhauser will today appear in court. The three women were part of a two-day protest which took place on the 11th and 12th of March 2021 against the Ikwezi Coal Mine. Sindi Kubheka, Zanele Kubheka, Buhle Kunene were amongst the eight activists arrested after police fired rubber bullets at a group of protesters. The police shot at community people seeking to peacefully engage with the Ikwezi Coal mine management on the 12th March 2021. This was on the second day of a two-day protest by community members. The community is affected by the Kliprand Colliery owned by Ikwezi coal mine. Four activists were injured during the incident and they have since laid charges of assault and illegal arrest against the police. This after police fired rubber bullets at peaceful protesters, and activist Thoko Nkosi was apprehended and arrested by Ikwezi mine security. Nkosi was later released on the same day as her arrest was deemed improper and illegal.

The two-day protest was triggered by the mine's refusal to take responsibility of the impacts suffered by the community due to its operations. Community members have previously reported issues of coal dust in their homes, death of livestock, water pollution, and removal of graves, and cracks on their walls due to blasting. All these issues are yet to be addressed by the mine which so far has failed to engage with affected communities in the area. "The unwelcomed developments in Dannhauser further highlight a total disregard for mining affected communities and how the system fails to protect the rights and well-being of the poor. Those trusted with the responsibility to protect and serve communities must always make sure that the people's interests are put first. The irresponsible use of force by police against peaceful protesters should be viewed as a serious attack not only on the protesting communities but also on the constitutional right to protest, and against our hard fought for democracy," says Robby Mokgalaka a coal campaigner at groundWork and one of the activists arrested.

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