Independent human rights organisation Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) has launched an urgent application in South Africa’s North West High Court, asking Pilanesberg Platinum Mines to cease all mining activities with immediate effect and restore possession of the Wilgerspruit farm.
The matter will be heard in the court on the 3rd of September.
Represented by LHR, the Lesethleng Village Community is seeking full possession, occupation and use of the farm which it has owned, farmed and developed for over a hundred years.
Without obtaining consent from the community, the lawyers allege that the company has sought to constructively evict the community by continuing its mining activities on the land without agreement from the community.
This, they allege, has been done by restricting access to water in addition to de-bushing at least 41% of the surface area of the farm, hindering farming activity.
LHR land and housing programme head Louise du Plessis said: "The farm is a major source of income and livelihood for the community and these efforts to restrict their movement and ownership of the land flies in the face of South Africa’s constitutional obligations.
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"It cannot be that a community’s rightful and legal ownership can be so blatantly ignored."
The community was informed in 2008 that Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela tribal authority had acquired mining rights to Wilgerspruit.
Due to fencing off parts of the farm and removing vegetation in preparation for mining, the water piping system was completely destroyed and the community was left without any access to water for themselves and their livestock.
On 28 October 2014, LHR issued a letter of demand that the mine cease its activities.
The demand was agreed for a short while, however, on 22 March, the mine resumed its activities, LHR said.
Image: LHR’s application intends to have the Pilanesberg mine halt all its operations. Photo: courtesy of Suat Eman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net