The visit sought to share information and experiences, and celebrate Human Rights day with communities endangered by extractive industries. It so happened that the visit, termed the Learning Route, coincided with the meeting of African Union’s Working Group/Commission on Communities faced with Extractive Industries which took place on Thursday 22nd March in Pretoria.
Dr Gavin Capps, an expert on tribal landed property, explained the convolution of the mining complex, the State and the tribal system as it impacted on the Bafokeng communities since the difacane. To guarantee and safeguard foreign ownership and control of land and the platinum mineral reserves in the Bushveld Complex, the two sectors are strategically centralized at the National offices.
The visitors arrived in Rustenburg to a warm welcome by members of the Bafokeng communities. Phillemon Khunou of Tsitsing, Gash Nape of Thekwana, Mr Makhubalo of the Setuke Family, Buti Mekgwe of Baphiring baLuka, all painted a picture of the hardships they have endured overtime against the colonial/apartheid regimes, who established, promoted and protected the Bafokeng chieftaincy’s illegitimate rule over their villages. They alluded to their loss of land to the boers and the Bafokeng chief Mokgatle from 1869 to 1908.
Michael Mmope, Thulare Mabule and Chris Senne of Chaneng village described how Anglo Platinum and the Bafokeng chief, through their Royal Bafokeng Platinum mine treated the Chaneng land owners. Those whose livelihoods depended on the ploughing and grazing fields had to make way, without compensation, for the mine’s Styldrift project. Migrant mine labour has overcrowded social amenities in clinics and schools. Crime has escalated and the mines continue to blast cracks in the local building structures.
Land Buyers’ Association, Chaneng Community, Setuke Family, Dr Gavin Capps and the Legal Resources Center were all awarded certificates of appreciation and recognition. In presenting the certificates, the Deputy President of Ford Foundation appreciated the resilience of the poor rural dwellers, and pledged to give support to the communities.
Chris, Jan, March, Tsholofelo, and Phistus led the slogan song ‘siyaya’ , as they resigned their Human Rights day.