Freestate Blog (South Africa)

Community Alerts/ Santos/Welkom-GUBICO/01 March 2017

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from 09H00 to 15H00 the Free State legislature hosted a mining charter bill amendments at Freddie Meyer hall where local stakeholders and the public was invited to raise their views, add or have subtractions on the bill. The communities and stakeholders touched too much on on the mining companies that leaves the communities in poverty and various diseases caused by mining and the Social Labour Plan that of is not implemented correctly by the very mining houses. My only fear is that the bill does not make a provision for small scale mining in the sense that permit for mining is still costly for the historically disadvantaged communities and hence it makes it difficult for them to gain from the land of their ancestors and as a result they will continue resorting to illegal mining (zama-zama). It actually encourages them to engage themselves into illegal mining. Had it been that the bill makes provision for such, it would be easy to regulate the zama-zamas. I feel there’s still a lot to do in making sure that the local communities benefit accordingly from the wealth of their ancestors.

Community Alerts/ Free State/ 15 November 2016

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In the year 2014, the community members at Nyakallong near Allanridge decided to forcefully occupy the land, in this land they built themselves shacks to live in. They argued that they have waited too long for the municipality to allocate housing stands for them. Following their forceful occupation of the land, they were threatened by the municipality to be evicted because they did not following proper procedures, but is hasn’t happened thus far. The illegal occupants have stayed there since 2014. It is now said; they will be removed and be taken to a proper housing stands with new RDP’s for them to live in. This is however expected to happen before the end of the year 2017. One may wonder if they could’ve been given a proper housing stands if they did not choose to forcefully occupy the land .With the latest announcement,  I am still of a view that, this may take longer than expected to happen.

Community Alert/Mme Mme/Free state province/10 November 2016

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There are 40-45 RDP houses that are still vacant or are without owners in Kagisho Kroonstad which were built 5-6 years ago. We took note again that there were people who applied for these houses in 1995 but still provision was not made to them, they are still stuck in shacks and most of these people are old aged ones. These vacant houses are turned into thug’s shelter where they perform their dirty work on weekly basis. The fact that these houses are still vacant promotes illegal occupation by residents.

Community Alerts/ Santos Phukuntsi/ Free State- Phomolong/ 22 September 2016

These RDP houses were built in 2014; it is surprising that they are still vacant when there are poor families living in squatters and shacks in the informal settlements without proper infrastructure. Windows are broken doors and toilet systems are stolen. These houses are now turned into hiding a place by thugs. This practice will undoubtedly create a situation where homeless people will illegally occupy the houses and after having done so conflicts will then arise between the illegal occupants and the rightful beneficiaries. This situation shows clearly the maladministration by corrupt municipal officials. They lack project managerial skills and clearly demonstrate incompetence in the delivery of housing while millions of South Africans need houses, the is no way that an RDP house can be built without a beneficiary, they are outside there patiently waiting to be told which house and when to occupy their houses, the problem is in the system of the delivery of housing. Once people illegally occupy these houses it will now be a matter of evictions at the high cost on the side of the municipality. An intensive investigation will be conducted on the matter and shall further be reported on Action Voice articles.

 

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Community Alerts/ by Kholiwe/ Free state/ 10 September 2016

 

Poor sanitation in Phomolong in the Free state province causes a great deal of unnecessary sickness and death. When human waste is not managed well, it pollutes water, food and soil with germs and leads to diarrhoea and other serious health problems. Using flush toilets prevent germs from getting into the environment, and protect the health of the whole community. Bucket toilets were provided as a temporary solution while the municipalities develop improved sanitation infrastructure. However, in some cases, the lack of funds to provide better facilities means that the problem of bucket toilets will not be eradicated.

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Community alerts/Cde Santos- Gubico/Free state/10 September 2016

 

Unemployment is still a major problem in the community of Nyakallong, this area is just few kilometres North of welkom, free state province. About 300 unemployed people are regularly attending the unemployment forum every Thursday. They go there with a hope of getting jobs at the mines. In the year 2014 the target 3 shafts was closed down, it was reported that the main reason for closure being of   not making a profit but a loss to the mining company. The new opening is estimated to at least employ 1000 people. This is good news to those who are unemployed but then again it brings up questions. With the recent miners strikes around the country demanding a basic salary of at least 12 500 will our people get it? Will the wanted profit be of a good use in community development and sustainability?  Will there be a safe and healthy working environment?  Will woman be considered as well in this employment?  Will the health of worker be taken into consideration as well?. All the above questions have always been a struggle to attain.

Community Monitors Alerts/Itumeleng Klaas and Santos P/GUBICO/Welkom/270616

WhatsApp-Image-20160627On the 23rd of June our ground investigative monitors Itumeleng Klaas and Santos Phukuntsi attended a mass meeting organized by Phomolong Unemployment Forum at 10am in Hennenman. While at it, an indication was made that the number of unemployed youth attending weekly meetings of the forum have increased to about 600 that in itself has become a worrying factor.

In the main was a report that Sibanye Gold formerly known as Goldfields committed to the forum that next month onwards it will employ certain number of unemployed youth and that shall be a monthly practice until the end of 2016. The practice shall contribute positively toward making sure unemployment and poverty is defeated in our community.

This report is brought to you by GUBICO ground investigative monitors

Mine Shaft HearingOn Monday 13 June 2016, one of our Ground Investigative Monitor who is a Tower of Gubico in Allenridge Motsoku Blom came across public notice about a public consultation for some of the old shafts to be open in Allenridge. The name of this mine is Listed as Tauning Gold Mine which is not yet known in the circle.

Limitations of the said consultation
1. Meeting was given three days notice before the meeting
2. Consultation happened at 15h00 on Monday when people are at work, clearly the target was the unemployed and school kids?
3. The meeting was used as a political parade ahead of the election, promising people Jobs
4. The politicians were answering on behalf of the company, clearly suggesting that the mine is in collusion with the party
5. DMR said other consultation had already been done which means this was a follow up, which sounded really dodgy

We are yet to meet and evaluate this and understand the implication of their responses. we are aware about their desire to try and draw us into their mix or even to silence is but they have another thing coming as we will be planning for them.

This short report is brought to you by Gubico On the Ground Investigative Monitor Motsoku Blom on behalf of the Team

This alert released and  prepared in collaboration with Santos Phukuntsi (Gubico Senior Coordinator and BMF Monitoring School Facilitator)

For the families working at the Makgaleng dumping site, “ A better life for all” is a distant dream. Poverty stricken families spend their time at the dumping site just to get a meal for each day. It is sad to find such poverty next to two of the best performing mines, Sibanye Gold and Harmony South Deep (Joel Mine).

Makgaleng is a landfill site situated right next to the water reservoir of Theunusen. It is meters away from the Masilo community, divided by a national road. Makgeleng, ’a place of aloe leaves’ in Sesotho, serves as a landfill site both to the community and businesses of Theunusen. It also serves as a place for refuge to more than 18 families of waste pickers occupying the site.

A place where babies are born

This dumping site has become the  birth name of a 2 year old boy whose parents Tahleho and Nomtatso Lekau, have been waste picking for more than 5 years.  Mr Lekau decribed his son Paballo ‘Makgaleng’ Lekau’s arrival at at the landfill site.

“It was late in the afternoon when a colleague of mine fetched me from the other side of the site with the news that my pregnant wife was about to give birth. We rushed to call an ambulance. But the ambulance did not arrive. On our return we found that she had given birth to a boy by herself, without any medical assistance.”  He continued, “We named him Makgaleng after his place of birth, the dumping site.”

An ID Problem

The Lekau family picks plastic and sells it to the regular recycling company from Welkom. “The plastic we pick gives us about R18 a day to R400 per month.” said Mr Lekau. They only have waste picking as a source of income. The entire family do not have any legal documentation that identify them as citizens of this country. “My mother has refused to assist me in finding an identity book after I have lost my birth certificate whilst a teenager. My sister’s boyfriend burnt her suitcase that had my certificate in it during their fight.”, continued Mr Lekau.  With this lack of documentation, Mr and Mrs Lekau were not able to find employment and their children cannot receive a support grant from government, hence they are subjected to waste picking. The majority of waste pickers at the site have a similar issue of documentation.

A Housing Problem

On a daily basis, Lekau’s family walks approximately a kilometre from their Lusaka home to Makgaleng to pick waste during the day and return in the evening. “At night, my family occupies a backroom shack of an old woman. I cannot afford to pay any rent so this lady asked me to serve as a guard during the night while she gives my children a place to sleep at night.”, said Mr Lekau with a sad face. All this happened after the municipality threatened to remove all waste picking families who built shacks by the landfill site with a claim that the municipality is going to grant the  site to a recycling company. The families had to relocate to Masilo where they are forced to pay rent. They come in the morning to pick and leave in the evening.

Our pickings are stolen

The Muncipality started to build a fence around the site but they left this unfinished without a fence.  This allows people to come and steal at night what is being collected by waste pickers during the day. “We work hard during the day and leave our pickings well packed in the afternoon, only to find them missing in the morning. They removed us from the site , now we can’t look after our pickings”  continued Sporo.

Pollution and Found Food

They are not exposed to only these threats. They also suffer from health hazards caused by air pollution of burning stuff at the site and eating food from the trash. “We sometimes do not have food so we feed ourselves from the food we find left in the plastics.” said Mr Lekau placing a piece of meat from a black plastic on a fire. The look from his son’s eyes is filled with joy as he shared the piece amongst them for lunch. “My children have adopted this lifestyle, they don’t get sick. They have been feeding on this since their infancy”, he concluded.

While Mr Lekau denied exposure to health risks, the continuing cough from almost everyone at the site tells a different story. This story that is confirmed by Sporo. “There is always a smog here from the burning stuff and it blocks our breathing at times. Nurses do come to check on us. They say that many of us have TB, but we cannot afford to go and stand on queues at clinic while we are hungry.”

Fear of Falling into Holes

The last threat they are exposed to is a fear of falling into holes in the ground. “As you are busy picking at times, you can feel the vibration of mining machines from underneath. It scares a hell out of children including us adults.” said Mr Lekau. The landfill site is situated between two performing mines, Sibanye Gold Mines and Harmony Deep.

Our Action

Our action as an organisation thus far is that we went to Home Affairs offices in Welkom to ask for a mobile office to visit the site so that the department assists the waste pickers there with finding proper documentation of citizenship. The department refused a special request stating that concerned individuals must be at the community hall where all residents of Masilo receive help at the the scheduled time. We have been consulting waste pickers to prepare necessary documents for the next visit. We want to see all of them properly documented and children receiving a government grant.

Secondly, we sent requests for  donations to social movements and individuals to help with basic needs such as clothes and food for the children.

Lastly, we are of  view that the rights of our people must be respected and their lives deserve transformation. We wrote a letter to the municipality stating our concern that it must assist with the crisis at the site and when the recycling company is set up, current waste pickers must be secured employment within that company.

BY Tshepo Stephen Maredi

Zanele Bob

We visited the  landfill site north of Bronville Township. We wanted to know if there has been a progress at all. We have been monitoring this site for 3 years now

As we approached the site  we were welcomed by the smog, the ash, the passing trucks entering the gate into the dump and waste pickers in the midst of this. On the site the smog worsens as there is  continuous burning of waste, the unpleasant smell and diverse movement of people running to the trucks, waste pickers heading to the scales, lining up at the tap and pulling their waste bags to the location. Lastly we see the informal settlement at the site is built from cans, steel, and plastic.

The informal settlement has a few pit toilets. The people  use a tap which is at the entrance of the site. There is a sheebeen that sells beer and plays very loud  music all day. This settlement is situated right next to the dump. “There are people staying in these shacks though they are not waste pickers. These are people from neighbouring countries who are illegal miners.

One of the waste pickers Ntate Kop said “ There are the people here who steal electric cables and  some among them are those who ran away from the community for the crimes they committed.” He continued, “We see awful things here from the birth of babies and their dumping. We are harassed by a gang called Raf3 that takes our belongings after picking, they control sections of the site, they are attacked by other gangs from the community and they threaten to kill us for standing against their authority.”

Mrs Louw a resident described the problem of air pollution they are forced to live with. “In the evenings the smog heads to our houses and our walls are black darkened by the smog” What causes this smog?  Some blame it on the waste pickers. But Mr Kop a waste picker gave a different explanation “We don’t burn anything, how can we burn things that we pick for a living? People who burn here are the illegal miners who process gold and cable here at the site during the night hence the smog is during the night. This is when we are not picking  and after they have returned from the near shafts. This is a dump site so fire catches any flammable product and it results to a huge fire at night. There are trucks dumping ashe from mines which leads to explosives and fire “said Mr Kop.

We confronted a councillor with this information . “The problem  is that there is no maintenance from the service provider. We as the Matjhabeng Municipality are not doing proper oversight.” confirmed the councillor, Mr Victor Morris.

The introduction of access cards for waste pickers to enter or exit the gate of the site is not regulative as it fails to acknowledge the rightful owners. One card is circulated around. This card is only used at the entrance of scaling and recycling machines.

This site is hazardous as it poses  a danger both to the community of Bronville and to the social and physical health of the waste pickers.

We want to find out if the landfill site is legal, does it have a license to manage rubbish?

We sent a letter requesting this information to the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF). A second letter was directed to the Endangered Species Protection Unit of the SAPS that is responsible for finding “illegal dumpers” and taking them to court.

There must be police intervention to deal with all forms of illegal dumping at the site. If this site is legal and has a license, we seek to know if the service provider has a permit. Also if there is a permit we seek to know if it correlates with the conditions at the site and its classification since there are explosives there.

One of our demands is the increased visibility of the Monitoring Committee and we demand copies of recent inspections of the site. We hope all departments will respond to our letters in a short period of time.

By Sampie Beukers ,  Charlote Dlamini

    and Nomzamo Dyonase

      

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