Home News Artisanal miners, shack dwellers march to demand land

Artisanal miners, shack dwellers march to demand land

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The two groups handed over two separate memorandums of demand.

The South African Artisinal Miners Forum and informal settlement dwellers marched to the Premier’s Office to demand land. Pictures: Danie van der Lith

THE SOUTH African Artisanal Miners Forum and informal settlement dwellers in Kimberley embarked on a peaceful march to the Premier’s Office on Wednesday to demand both residential and mining land.

The two groups handed over two separate memorandums of demand to the deputy director-general for policy and governance in the Premier’s Office, Dr Steven Jonkers, with an ultimatum that they sought a response within three days.

The memorandums targeted the Department of Land Affairs, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, the Sol Plaatje Municipality and the SAPS.

The artisanal miners questioned Ekapa Mining’s mining permit and demanded that its operations be stopped with immediate effect.

They called for Ekapa mine trucks and earthmoving equipment to be stopped from working the dumps.

They want all dumps and floors to be handed over for artisanal mining within three days.

The miners further demanded that productive land be expropriated from private owners.

They called for the regulation of artisanal miners’ rights in terms of section 104 of the MPRDA (Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act), and for clarity on the rights granted to Ekapa through section 11.

The forum also wants the SAPS to attend to all outstanding cases involving its members within seven working days; and for the Sol Plaatje Municipality to establish a market house where the artisanal miners can trade diamonds.

The spokesperson for the Artisanal Miners Forum, Patric Maphoso, would not reveal what they plan to do if they do not receive their expected response within three days.

Maphoso went on to say that the forum called for the removal of the Cecil John Rhodes statue in Kimberley and labelled it an apartheid symbol.

“We cannot afford to have a man like Cecil John Rhodes in the middle of our city. He is a man that has committed atrocities. He and his men have raped our mothers and have stolen our land,” said Maphoso.

He said that it is unacceptable for black people to remain landless and still living in squalid conditions 26 years into democracy.

“Most of our land is owned by white people in the Province. We cannot allow that any more,” said Maphoso.

“We plead to our government to do something about it. They must not forget that next year it’s the local elections and we will definitely advise our people to vote wisely if they don’t listen to us.”

The Kimberley Informal Settlements organisation demanded that the Sol Plaatje Municipality allocate serviced land to them within suburban areas.

They indicated that they want land that is close to economic and social activities and health services.

They said that they could not relocate to Lethabo Park as they deem it as only subjecting them to more poverty and lack of services.

The spokesperson for the informal settlement dwellers, Pontsho Mocwana, accused the municipality of being “dodgy” and of only selling municipal land to private individuals.

“We are living in congested areas. We are not asking for all the land. We only need land where we can settle,” said Mocwana. “In 1994 we sent this new government to reclaim what was taken from us. But what do they do? They keep on selling the land to the monopoly capital, which is wrong.”

Mocwana indicated that they do not expect the implementation of their demands within the stipulated three days but that there should be some form of communication form the Premier’s Office within the specified time.

Jonkers promised to forward the memorandums to the premier immediately and to provide feedback to the marchers.