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31 Okt 2022

Amnesty International South Africa

S. Africa: Two years since environmental activist & human rights defender Fikile Ntshangase was killed, no one has been held accountable for her murder

‘Two years later and still no justice for murdered activist’ 21 October 2022

It has been two years since environmental activist and human rights defender Fikile Ntshangase, was silenced with six bullets and yet no one has been held accountable for her murder, Amnesty International South Africa said ahead of the anniversary of her death. Ntshangase was gunned down in her home at Ophondweni, near Mtubatuba in KwaZulu-Natal, on 22 October 2020. She was an outspoken critic of the open coal mine at Somkele, on the border of the Hluhluwe Imfolozi game park in northern KwaZulu-Natal, by Tendele Coal and its proposed extension of mining operations in the area.

… Since 2016, there has been growing opposition to Tendele Coal by residents of Somkhele. Marches against the expansion of mining operations in the area have reportedly ended with a memorandum of grievances presented to the relevant authorities and stakeholders. Many community members have appealed against the mine’s attempted expansion out of fear that it would lead to their forced eviction and threaten their livelihoods. Local activists have also reported that current mining activities in the area are having a detrimental impact on the environment, including the quality of air and water. “The government has an obligation to ensure the protection and safety of its people and uphold their right to say ‘no’ to mining in their communities,” Mohamed said.

… Human rights defenders and whistleblowers are critical to any democracy because they are a warning sign that lets us know as a society, as authorities, that something is going wrong. They expose acts of criminality and abuse by governments, corporations, organisations and individuals. Without whistleblowers, evidence of large-scale human rights violations would never surface. “We are lucky that there are still people out there who are prepared to put their lives on the line to do the right thing but the concern is that, because of this lack of protection and disdain for their lives, this could also be a deterrent for some who might want to come forward and speak out or stand up for what is right.”