South Africa: Opponent of mining on West Coast shot & killed - NGOs condemn killing

More than 70 NGOs have expressed shock and outrage over the shooting and killing of the chairperson of Amadiba Crisis Committee, Sikhosiphi Bazooka Rhadebe. For a decade, the Amadiba Crisis Committee has led their community in resisting attempts from Australian-owned mining company MRC and its local subsidiary TEM to access its titanium-rich Xolobeni coastal dunes, which would result in disruption of the community's way of life. The NGOs are demanding protection for all members of the Amadiba Crisis Committee and their families, and the ACC has vowed to intensify its resistance.

Numerous other NGOs, social movements and political formations have issued statements condemning the killings, such as Khulumani Support Group and the Economic Freedom Fighters

Articles and statements about this killing are below.

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6 April 2016

Radio show: Community leader & co. representative discuss killing of Xolobeni anti-mining advocate

Author: Omogolo Taunyane, 702/Cape Talk (South Africa)

"Resource rich Xolobeni eyed by Australian company for mining exploits", 7 Apr 2016

The Xolobeni community in the Wild Coast has been plagued for years by violence over disagreements around MRC, the Australian-owned mining company's access, to mine titanium in the area. The community is against the mining operation as they say it would disrupt their way of life. Recently tensions mounted after the murder of one of the community's leaders, Sikhosiphi 'Bazooka' Rhadebe.

702/Cape Talk's Redi Tlhabi spoke to deputy chairperson of Amadiba Crisis Committee, Mzamo Dlamini, and Mineral Commodities Limited executive, Mark Caruso, regarding the issue.

[Download MP3 audio of radio show here]

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Author: RFI (France)

« La politique d'exploitation minière en Afrique du Sud pointée du doigt », 30 mars 2016

Le meurtre d'un militant pour la protection de l'environnement a relancé le débat sur la politique d'exploitation minière dans le pays. La semaine dernière, Sikhosiphi «Bazooka» Rhadebe a été abattue de huit balles par des inconnus. Il était le président du Comité de crise d'Amadiba. Et luttait depuis des années contre les projets d'une compagnie minière australienne dans la province du Cap oriental. Pour cette communauté, le meurtre de leur leader est lié à leur opposition à ce projet...[exploité par] une compagnie minière australienne, MRC, qui veut extraire du titane du sable des plages de la région.

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29 March 2016

Amadiba Crisis Committee Press statement, 30 March 2016

Author: Amadiba Crisis Committee

...We encourage MRC’s shareholders and Australian experts to read our lawyers’ objection. Has [Mark] Caruso told you that he had no access to our land since April 2015? Has he reported that he has sacked his Environmental Assessment Practitioner (EAP)? Caruso’s recent EAP recruit is a South African living in Perth. He will be better off there, with the exiles...22 February, our community again blocked MRC from access to our land. MRC had threatened through chief Lunga, whom they have bought, to "come by force"...The Xolobeni Scoping Report says that MRC “needs” 13 to 15 million cubic meter water per year, from the groundwater and from rivers. This is the water we use for our livelihood...

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29 March 2016

Legal Resources Centre and Richard Spoor Attorneys Statement on police response to Amadiba Cri­sis Com­mit­tee mur­der

Author: Legal Resources Centre

The LRC and Richard Spoor Attor­neys, who have offered assis­tance to the fam­ily of Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe, mur­dered chair­per­son of the Amadiba Cri­sis Com­mit­tee (ACC), are deeply con­cerned about the response of the South African Police Ser­vices (SAPS) to the inves­ti­ga­tion sur­round­ing his death...We do not believe that the SAPS is pro­vid­ing ade­quate resources to the inves­ti­ga­tion...The LRC and Richard Spoor Attor­neys would like to stress that a com­pre­hen­sive, inde­pen­dent inves­ti­ga­tion that ensures jus­tice for Mr Rhadebe’s death is required. This requires the proper pro­cess­ing of the crime scene and the hijacked vehi­cle. The fam­ily must be allowed to par­tic­i­pate in and mon­i­tor the process...A struc­tured approach to com­mu­nity secu­rity and safety must be based on an assess­ment of the risks and trig­gers for irra­tional vio­lent actions by, or organ­ised by, those who have much to gain if demo­c­ra­tic wishes are ignored and dis­re­spected. A ded­i­cated inves­ti­ga­tion into the mur­der is a nec­es­sary part of this process.

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24 March 2016

Australian mining company, MRC denies role in murder of anti-mining activist

Author: Joshua Robertson, The Guardian

"Australian mining company denies role in murder of South African activist", 25 Mar 2016

An Australian-owned mining company has denied any link to the murder of an activist leading a campaign against its plans to mine titanium in South Africa. In a statement, MRC said it was “not in a position to comment with any authority on the incident...but any claims it was in any way implicated were...simply was in no way implicated in any form whatsoever in this incident...Despite our own internal enquiries, we are no further informed as to any of the specific facts surrounding this incident other than what has been reported...The company does not condone violence in any form and it is tragic that a man has lost his life regardless of the circumstances, which … are yet to be established”. MRC’s executive chairman, Mark Caruso, did not respond to specific questions from Guardian Australia.

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23 March 2016

More than 70 NGOs issue joint statement demanding protection of leaders and families of anti-mining activists in the Wild Coast

Author: over 70 NGOs incl. ActionAid So. Africa, Bench Marks Foundation, Centre for Environmental Rights, Centre for Human Rights - Univ. of Pretoria, Lawyers for Human Rights, Open Secrets, Oxfam South Africa, Treatment Action Campaign, War on Want

"Joint civil Society statement on assassination of chairperson of Amadiba Crisis Committee", 

...As chair of the ACC, Bazooka Rhadebe was a leader of the community’s years-long struggle against an Australian mining company, Mineral Commodities Limited, which seeks to plunder the Amadiba's communal lands along the Wild Coast...This is not the first case of intimidation or violence against those who have opposed mining in the area...The assassination of Bazooka is a painful reminder that from abahlali baseMjondolo to the Helen Suzman Foundation, there is an existing pattern of criminal attacks on civil society formations, especially on those in townships, informal settlements and rural areas...It is worst felt when the media are far away and the victims are poor, black or rural, and when major industries stand to make billions in profit.

We cannot afford to remain silent in the face of any of these attacks. Every one of them is an attack on democracy itself.

1      We call for the speedy arrest and successful prosecution of the killers of comrade Bazooka.

2      We further call on the Human Rights Commission to investigate the systematic process of intimidation that has been orchestrated against  those who have stood up against MRC and its lackeys in the area.

3      We demand that the Minister of Mineral Resources suspends all mining applications until there has been a full and independent investigation of Rhadebe's murder!

4      We demand protection for all members of the Amadiba Crisis Committee and their families!

We call on all progressive forces to stand up in defense of democracy. End the attacks on our activists and movements!

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23 March 2016

Wild Coast anti-mining activist gunned down

Author: Tony Carnie, IOL (South Africa)

A community leader opposed to dune mining near the Wild Coast Sun Casino has been murdered in front of his family following a series of violent attacks on anti-mining activists in the area...Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe was gunned down outside his home in Mdatya village in the Xolobeni area...Rhadebe was chairman of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, a community group that has been resisting attempts by an Australian-owned mining company to extract heavy mineral sands such as zircon, rutile and titanium along the scenic Wild Coast region between the Mtentu and Mzamba rivers.

There have been several reports of killings, attacks and intimidation of the Amadiba community dating from at least 2008, allegedly at the behest of community members allied to the Perth-based mining company Mineral Commodities Ltd (MRC), its local subsidiary Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources (TEM) and the Xolobeni Empowerment Company (Xolco)...Early in 2008, Samson Dimane, an outspoken critic of the mining, died in mysterious circumstances. Several grade 7, 8 and 9 pupils at Xolobeni Junior Secondary School were allegedly sjambokked by police in September 2008 for voicing opposition to mining on their land...MRC executive chairman Mark Caruso could not be reached in Australia last night to comment on the latest violence in the proposed mining area. The Mercury was also unable to reach Zamile Madiba Qunya, a vocal supporter of the mining bid, for his views on recent developments.

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22 March 2016

Wild Coast Amadiba mining opponent 'assassinated', community group says not intimidated

Author: Tariro Washinyira, Mail & Guardian (South Africa)

"Wild Coast Amadiba mining opponent 'assassinated'"

After almost a year of threats and attacks, a Wildcoast anti-mining activist was gunned down and killed in front of his wife and sons. The chairperson of Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC), Sikhosiphi Bazooka Rhadebe (49) from Mdatya village on the Wild Coast, was shot what the committee views as an assassination. The committee has been at the forefront of resistance to proposed dune mining in the Xolobeni area of the former Transkei. It recently lodged an objection to a fresh application to mine by the Australia-based company MRC...Speaking on the phone, the ACC secretary, Nonhle Mbuthuma,...said that at about 6pm, not long before his death, Rhadebe called her on the phone and told her that he understood there was a “hit list” of strong opponents of mining and warned her to be careful...[In a statement]...[t]he committee said the Amadiba coastal community “will not be intimidated into submission. Imining ayiphumeleli! (mining will not succeed)” 

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