Fikile Ntshangase - Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation (MCEJO)
Fikile Ntshangase, a leading member of the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation (MCEJO), which is taking legal action to prevent the expansion of an open-cast coal mine at Somkhele, South Africa, was killed at her home by four gunmen. MCEJO also says the mine’s existing operations should be halted because they are not compliant with environmental and other laws. The mine owners, Tendele Coal Mine, say they are operating lawfully, and expansion is necessary to keep the mine viable and protect 1,600 direct jobs and hundreds of indirect jobs in this impoverished part of the country. Over the past few months, tensions have risen in the community over MCEJO’s opposition to the proposed expansion of Tendele’s operations. Nsthangase had reportedly refused to sign a memorandum of agreement to withdraw court claims against the compant and days before her killing stated her intention to write an affidavit about an alleged bribe offer in return for her signature. People near the mine have been the focus of threats of violence and intimidation in recent months, according to lawyers representing the communities. Families that have refused to be relocated from their ancestral lands have reportedly been shot at.