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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Thu, 24 March 2016

Assassinated anti-mining activist Sikhosiphi Bazooka Rhadebe died this week trying to save a stretch of Wild Coast in his ancestral homeland from destruction, writes Spike.


BAZOOKA: Assassinated by hitmen masquerading as policemen. Photo Fred Kockott

Bazooka-johnclarkBazooka, chair of the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC), was shot dead outside his house in Lurholweni township, Mbizana, Eastern Cape on Tuesday night. The ACC said Rhadebe was assassinated.

His 'crime'? Fighting to save his beloved stretch of the coast from the rapacious attentions of a large mining conglomerate that wants to dig up the dunes for titanium.

"Our beloved Bazooka made the ultimate sacrifice defending our ancestral land of Amadiba on the Wild Coast. The hitmen came in a white Polo with a rotating blue lamp on the roof. Two men knocked at the door saying they were the police. Mr Rhadebe was shot with eight bullets in the head. He died defending his young son, who witnessed the murder. His son and his wife are now in hospital," the ACC said in a statement.

Australian mining company Mineral Commodities Limited (MCL) - see the Avaaz petition to stop them here and the internal petition to the SA government that might yield better results here - has been trying to mine a pristine 22km stretch of dune-lined coast as part of what they call "the Xolobeni Mineral Sands dune mining project", which would be one of the largest titanium mines in South Africa. Central to the area is the mouth of the Mnyameni River, which nestles in a long unspoilt beach.


NOT MINE: The Mnyameni Estuary lies in the heart of the proposed mine. Photo: Google Earth

Bazooka2-johnclarkLed by a SA subsidiary of MCL, the bid has caused widening conflict between pro and anti factions in the Umgungundlovu Tribal Authority. It has also been alleged that Amadiba chief Lunga Baleni accepted a 4x4 as a bribe from the company.

Journalist Bobby Jordan, writing for The Times in November 2015, reported that MCL chairman Mark Caruso threatened to "rain down vengeance" on opponants in an email to local stakeholders, quoting the entire biblical passage that Quentin Tarantino had his assassins use in Pulp Fiction.

He is also reported to have said, "I am enlivened by [the] opportunity to grind all resistance to my presence and the presence of MSR [the South African subsidiary of Mineral Commodities] into the animals [sic] of history as a failed campaign."


PRECIOUS PLACES: Another pristine Wild Coast estuary. Photo: Peter Chadwick

The ACC said that it had expected something like this after a year of bullying via threats and attacks, including a shooting in Xolobeni in May last year they claim was led by mining director Zamile Qunya, and another attack earlier this month (see report), after threats in February by pro-miners to use force (see report).

According to a joint statement by advocacy groups, MCL "seeks to plunder the Amadiba's communal lands" and that local police had refused to cooperate with the Umgungundlovu traditional authority to "stop the violence against our community, which says no to mining".

The ACC said that the MRC and "all the criminals in high positions who are eager to cut their piece of our land and fill their pockets with blood money, shall know this: The Amadiba coastal community will not be intimidated into submission".

"Imining ayiphumeleli!"
(Mining will fail)


“Senzeni Na?” (What Have We Done?) is an old anti-apartheid folk song commonly sung at funerals, demonstrations and in churches. It has been compared to the American protest song, “We Shall Overcome”.


Mike loewe
0 #2 MeneerMike loewe 2016-03-24 17:51
Great piece Spike.
Milli M
0 #1 MsMilli M 2016-03-24 17:38
A tragedy, in so many ways!
Please rethink before more human and animal lives are destroyed and lost - everything is connected.
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