Protesters accuse coal mining company of damaging their homes

Ogies and Phola coal mining communities also demand that Seriti publish a labour plan

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Photo of protesters

Community members from the towns of Phola and Ogies protested outside the head office of mining company Seriti in Illovo, Johannesburg. Photos: Ihsaan Haffejee

People from the Mpumalanga towns of Phola and Ogies protested outside the head office of coal mining company Seriti in Illovo, Johannesburg, on Thursday. A large police presence monitored the demonstration.

Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA) accuses Seriti of not complying with the requirements for obtaining its mining rights. They want the company to immediately publish its Social and Labour Plans (SLP), outlining its commitments to the people of New Largo, Klipspruit and Khutala collieries.

Bongani Nkosi, community activist and Phola MACUA coordinator, said blasting is affecting homes and the health of people in the area. They want a civil engineering audit to assess structural damage to their homes.

“The mine is very close to our homes and many residents have experienced cracks and damage … which can pose a risk,” said Nkosi.

“We are demanding a comprehensive medical screening program for community members who have contracted respiratory-related diseases,” said Nkosi.

“When they are blasting there is a lot of dust there. It is not safe to live there. We are all coughing. Our children are suffering,” said Daisy Tshabangu, from Phola. “They say they are amending their SLP. Up to today we don’t have anything in hand that they are showing us.”

Community members want to be employed by Seriti Holdings, not contractors working for the mine, which they accuse of exploitation.

“The only thing that they do is to take the minerals, to maximise profits and leave the communities as poor as they are. It has to come to an end,” said Meshack Mbangula, MACAU national coordinator.

He said they had tried to engage with Seriti but no progress was made so they brought their issues to the head office.

Thabo Masike, chief people officer at Seriti Resources, received their memorandum and promised to respond by the 30-day deadline.

In an email, Seriti stated it “is a socially responsible corporate citizen and remains compliant with the conditions of its mining rights and has gone beyond compliance on several issues”.

“The company has also established a Community Trust where communities own a 5% shareholding … an additional vehicle for community benefit … The trustees for the trust have been elected by the community.”

“Seriti engages with all interested and affected stakeholders through its Community Consultative Forum”, including MACAU, it said.

“The company is committed to fostering trust and collaboration with its communities and all other stakeholders.”

Bongani Nkosi, a community activist and MACUA coordinator in Phola.

TOPICS:  Mining

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