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S. Africa: Anti-mining activist receives death threat in latest attack on popular resistance to proposed mining

‘Xolobeni activist receives death threat’ 17 November 2020

On 15 November, a threat was made via text message on the life of Nonhle Mbuthuma, a prominent anti-mining activist in Umgungundlovu in Eastern Mpondoland. According to the message, which she received from an unknown number at 10.40pm, the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) spokesperson may be in grave danger. The message, which listed Mbuthuma among other anti-mining activists from the area who have either been killed or died, made a number of open threats of murder against the 41-year-old.

…Assassinations have become part of the political currency in Umgungundlovu – often called Xolobeni after one of the villages in the area – since people living there started resisting the proposed mining. In early 2016, two men pretending to be police officers murdered Sikhosiphi 'Bazooka' Redebe. He founded the ACC with Mbuthuma and others, and was chairperson of the organisation at the time. The text message sent to Mbuthuma appeared to make reference to this bloody history… Resistance has long been a deadly business for the often-impoverished activists and communities who stand up to mining corporations. But the threat on Mbuthuma’s life comes at a time when defiance at a grassroots level appears to have become particularly dangerous. Less than a month ago, on 22 October, 62-year-old Fikile Ntshangase, who opposed the expansion of an anthracite mine in northern KwaZulu-Natal, was murdered.

… “You will run out of money for paying for security and we will get you. We are not going to be controlled by a bitch. Once you change your security, we will strike.” The threat appears to be a reference to the private security guards that Mbuthuma and others in the ACC, like members of other social movements in the country, were forced to enlist after the murder of Radebe and other death threats.

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