Illegal Sand Mining, An Ecological Negative Practice

By Booker Menzva

Illegal sand mining in the Kruger to Canyons biosphere is depleting the rivers ecosystem adversely affecting the livelihoods of communities who live around and depend on the rivers. Miners are leaving deep holes that fill up with water and are a hazard to children and livestocks, drowning cases are on the rise. Villagers fear if uncurbed these illegal mining activities will destroy their rivers and deprive them of their source of water and livelihood.

Illegal sand mining is leaving untold damage to the environment

Abahlali baseMjondolo Condemns Xenophobia

Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu (A person is a person through/because of other people)

Unyawo alunampumlo (A person is a person whenever and wherever they find themselves)

These are African proverbs that encourage the spirit of humanity.

Borders were created by those who colonised us in order to divide and control us. We were further divided by the creation of fixed ethnicities. Today elites continue to try and actively divide the working class and impoverished people on the basis of nationality and ethnicity.

Our politics is rooted in the land occupation and our struggle. If you are a participant in a democratic struggle you are a comrade in that struggle. It does not matter which country or province you come from. Our politics is that of gathering people together, forging community, and building the power of the oppressed. Those who try to lecture us that our neighbours who have proven to be comrades are our enemies because of where they were born or what language they speak are in fact our real enemies.

Since our movement was first formed we have always opposed all forms of xenophobia or ethnic discrimination. We have always called on all progressive forces to shelter and defend people that come under xenophobic attacks. We have always worked to build a movement in which everyone can feel at home and have the dignity they deserve. We are proud that we have members and leaders from different provinces and countries in our movement who have upheld the just cause.

The xenophobic actions targeted on foreigners residing in Soweto and Zeerust are disgraceful and everyone must vehemently condemn this injustice and we propose that this condemnation translate into concrete forms of solidarity.

Let us not allow our minds to be colonised for we fought against colonialism during the armed struggle. Let us understand clearly that our oppressors, including the ANC, want to divide impoverished people and the working class in order to keep us weak. Let us build the democratic power of the oppressed in struggle.

Coal Mining Threatens the Community of Vosman

Vosman in Emalahleni is an informal settlement area with Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) houses built for the community of Vosman. Most of the houses were constructed with no solid foundation. The area is close to multiple coal mining operations which are open cast and the more the blasting in the mines takes place, the more the slate from the ground shows up and cracks.

People who are 100m away from the mines are living in fear for their lives as their houses are cracking from bottom to the ceiling while the interior has also not been spared. Some of the windows are cracking and broken.  Their safety is now under threat as a result of the negative consequences of mining. The community is also not being consulted when an operation is taking place. All they want is the mines to fix the cracked houses as others have just constructed new houses and these are barely three years but are already showing signs of cracks.

Making A Living Picking Waste

Living in a community that is contaminated by mine waste radioactivity is not easy for the people of Thulani Snake park informal settlement in Soweto. People around the area are now making a living as waste pickers to survive. They do not have electricity so recycling helps them to get money to buy paraffin and food. It is really hard especially for women to wake up early in the morning and walk a distance pushing a trolley to get recycling items like tins, plastic bottles, and other recycling items. They say when they go to suburban areas they are humiliated by some residents and some call them derogatory names such as “bomalala pipes” while  security guards also chase them away.

Despite, the ill -treatment, they don’t get enough money from the items because the scrap yard does not pay much especially when the scale is small.

Waste picking has become their source of livelihood. Some of the waste pickers around the area are drug addicts, who use the returns from selling scrap to feed their hunger for drugs. Women waste pickers are now intimidated by these ‘nyaope’ boys and have expressed the need for the police to protect them.

The community has also called on the government to formulate policies that will ensure that they are recognized and stop the municipality from privatizing the recycling sector.

Nyaope or whoonga is a street drug that has allegedly come into widespread use in South Africa since 2010.