Australia's Mineral Commodities denies claims it was complicit in mining activist’s murder in So. Africa

Author: John Yeld, GroundUp (South Africa), Published on: 24 June 2019

‘No reward for info on SA activist’s murder, says million-making Aussie company’ 13 June 2019

The executive director of MRC, which has made R130 million from mining SA’s Wild Coast, says there will be no financial assistance for those who can provide info on Sikhosiphi Rhadebe’s murder. Australian company Mineral Commodities Ltd (MRC) was quizzed at the company’s recent 2019 annual meeting about financing a reward for information about the death of Xolobeni anti-mining activist Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe… At the AGM in Perth, most questions – including about specifically targeted social spending – were batted away with a “put it in writing” response. However, MRC executive chairperson Mark Caruso did answer one question directly. He was asked by Louis de Villiers, a South African lawyer and environmentalist now living in Australia, whether MRC shareholders would offer a substantial financial reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killers of Xolobeni anti-mining activist Rhadebe, gunned down at his home in March 2016 by two men posing as policemen. Caruso’s reply had been unequivocal, De Villiers reported: “It was quite a fiery meeting. Caruso said outright he’d not agree to offering a reward, and for the rest he harangued me before closing me down again, saying I should table the questions.”

De Villiers, who held a proxy from a minority shareholder, raised questions relating to MRC’s operations in South Africa at both its 2018 and 2019 annual meetings.At the 2018 meeting, he asked whether the MRC board had approved the “SLAPP” suit (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) legal action currently being brought by Caruso and other MRC-linked plaintiffs against six South Africans, with damages’ claims totalling R11.75 million.De Villiers also asked for clarity on an apparent contradiction in MRC’s 2017 annual report: the company had announced in 2016 that it was divesting from its Xolobeni mining rights but at the same time apparently remained interested in mining there. He said he had not got any substantive answers at that meeting.

Asked by GroundUp to comment on the questions raised at the annual meeting, MRC company secretary Peter Torre said Caruso had provided “a reasonable opportunity” for shareholders and proxy holders to ask questions. But, he said, the annual meeting “is not a forum for one shareholder or proxy holder to dominate such questions”. “The company’s preference at all meetings is to take questions on notice and provide a written response … given the sensitivities to any statements made by the company and the prolific misquoting and misinformation that circulates regarding the company.” De Villiers had been asked to provide his remaining questions (from the 2018 meeting) in writing and the company had compiled detailed answers, “which took a considerable amount of management time,” Torre said.


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Related companies: Mineral Resource Commodities (MRC)