On the 15 September free state monitoring school continue with our second session on the second phase of the programme with 23 enthusiastic participants present that day, others who were not able to make it provided apologies. The objective of the meeting was to report back on the tasks allocated during the previous training workshop and as usual our ground investigative monitors didn’t disappoint they gave it their best and came out with reliable, concrete and factual information about what is happening in their surroundings. Though the is a room for improvement we recognised that they did this for the first time with very limited resources and support.

Our normal way of beginning the proceedings once again embraced the occasion, introduction of the members, workshop aims and the time plans, Reminding them of the discipline that’s still critical for the proper functioning of the monitory school and emphasis on participation and seriousness/ determination/alertness/excellence in executing the mandated tasks.

We were able to remind the monitors in the built up to the workshop about the importance of providing the articles and consistent blogging because this is a way of putting our stories out there and attract the necessary attention we deserve.
Free writing approach was once again encouraged because it enables members to be better prepared when they write their articles or when they take reports from the community. The ground investigative monitors were asked to regroup in a way including other members who couldn’t complete their tasks. Because the inputs and knowledge they earned in most of the tasks will be appreciated in a learning journey.

Then people divided into Welkom, Bronville, Odendaalsrus, Allenridge, Virginia and Theunissen.

  •  Welkom reported on artisanal “illegal” mining. (Two report will come from Thabong)
    Mr Pule Ledaka reported on behalf of his group and gave a detailed account on research finding and process being followed around artisanal “illegal” mining in Thabong , the report highlighted the fact that this problem could be cost structural unemployment also perpetuated by mine closure and lack of alternative by government. Therefore reflects that this is often a short term measures because this cannot be addressed with short term solutions given by the government. The environment is being harmed by these operations so the government should be able to come up with alternatives because the problem of unemployment cut across all age groups the people see themselves as forced to engage in this extraction activities so they can provide for their families in the short and medium term. During the discussion a suggestion for the use of illegal mining phrase to be dropped in favour of self- employment or small scale miners was raised and debated. However the clear consensus was that the government should create space and the opportunities and training for the individuals so they could operate legally.
  • Bronville reported on the matter of a school in between the tailing dams and the location where young ones pass everyday through a makeshift( which is extremely unsafe) bridge and recently the school reported cases ranging from assault, rape, abductions and robberies. This cases involved illegal miners  Mrs Kopa who is a lead researcher was in charge of the mission, she said they were able to take photos and some of the things that happened around this school made front page news in the local papers. She didn’t give much because the person who was responsible to come with he report couldn’t make it due to work related reasons. But she promised to email the detailed report as soon as possible.
  • Allenridge reported on sewerage dam that’s close to the location.
    Mrs Mami delivered the report on behalf of her team. In Allenridge the mine started spilling acid water into the streams leading to the dam and later on joined by the municipality in discharging sewerage into the dam. This dam is less than 5 meters to the residential area. It is with noting that this pan has been here for years and if often filled by rain water, needless to say there are fishes in the pan and we have collected a video potage fishes dying mysteriously and we suspect acid from mining houses and raw sewage are directly responsible for endangering the community. It is indeed really shocking to realize that we are still treated in this manner, she gave account of the conditions in which people live some even suffering from different ailments. They promised to type the report and attach the pictures. A support visit was identified as being a issue of urgency for this area to give support.
  • Virginia “Marriespruite” will be busy the dangers posed by tailing dams close to residential areas.
    Mr Phello delivered a nicely typed out report on behalf of his team. He presented a research finding around tailing dams in Marriespruit and the dangers associated with talking to these old tailing dams which once busted and flooded the town. The worked done lacked community voices and the team was asked to go and fill in that missing part of the research. A follow was identifying as a need for supporting the work on the ground!
  • Virginia “Meloding” Raw Sewage pan which pollutes sand river
    This report was presented by Ms. Dimakatso Mashiya, who give a background on the research work and what motivated the issue, the report was written but not typed photos were taken and it give a bleak of how small kids were forced to swim in this dump due to lack of recreational facilities, lives stock also drink water from this pan which is less than 300 metre from the residential area. Worse of them all this leachates which is left unattended for over a decade and its drainage end up directly in sand river and polluting water naturel water source. Yet again a systematic support was also highlighted in a form of a visit to this area.
  • Odendaalsrus reported on Houses build on a salty pan and the houses continuing to have a built up of salt from the foundations, they are cracking again its built on wetlands you don’t have to dig deep to find water underneath.
    Mr Jeff reported on behalf of his team and they have compiled the report and typed it however the person who is holding the memory stick did not attend the meeting due to urgent family commitment. An assurance is there that the work is done however and the report with photos will soon follow! A visit was scheduled for the facilitator and the coordinator to give support
  • Theunissen is a ghost town you will never say it provides labour to one of the big houses in mining it is so under develop yet there is a mine nearby. The Minerals of the people are not working for them. It is in a very poor state of affairs. They are also looking at giving a account of the strikes around the area.
    Mr Mothobi reported on behalf of the group and yet again much work and structure of the report were not properly follow and there was a clear need for follow up with GUBICO Coordinator to provide support

 General Comments:
Leadership of GUBICO encouraged every district to follow the template given but not be limited by it, ground investigative monitors were commended for their hard work and initial finding which were shared.

The guidelines for group project:
 Selecting the issue
 Identifying the questions
 Selecting information gathering tools
 Writing the reports
 Giving and getting feedback and follow up activities
 Finalising the report
 And reporting back to the community

All of the above proved not be a real challenge because most of this things were dealt with on the first phase, and when they meet challenges we advised them that the facilitator and the senior coordinator and other district coordinators will be able to help when the need arise.