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So. Africa: Study finds that many African families continue to suffer displacements to pave way for mining activities

Author: Dineo Skosana, The Conversation (South Africa), Published on: 12 November 2019

‘Mining activities continue to dispossess black families in South Africa’ 9 November 2019

Dispossession in South Africa is associated with the period of colonialism and apartheid. As a result, not much consideration is given to how previously marginalised black communities continue to be dispossessed by coal-mining activities in democratic South Africa…I found that the relocations continue as a result of coal mining companies buying up land owned by white farmers. Black farm dwellers and labour tenants are given short shrift because the mining companies see houses – and graves – as mere movable structures and, therefore, replaceable.

…As part of the relocation, at least 1,000 graves were relocated from Tweefontein farm. The graves belonged to former migrant labourers and labour tenants who came from various parts of South Africa and from other countries such as Mozambique and Swaziland. Most of the deceased people’s relatives live in the surrounding black townships such as Phola and Witbank. Others left a long time ago. This meant that some graves were claimed and others were not.

The study found that graves are subject to contestation because of contradictions in South Africa’s laws. On the one hand, the National Heritage Resource Act (1999) protects graves. But the South African Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (2002) allows land to be used for mining purposes. The result is that the laws undermine the government’s stated objective of protecting previously marginalised communities

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