Tunatazama - Community Monitors

Mining related issues faced by Tlhabane township. extract from Rustenburg Review 2011.

Tlhabane is township just outside the Rustenburg town centre. It was built in 1960’s for black people living in the white town of Rustenburg. Tlhabane is located on the side of a large Xstrata Smelter.

Mining Related Issues

1. Pollution
Fumes from the smelter pollute the air and leads to respiratory problems in the community. We know of a case where a doctor certified that a child’s chest problems were related to the fumes from the smelter. Dust from the slime dam leads to rusting of roofs of houses alongside the graveyard.

2. Xstrata Workers in Community
Workers from far away live in backyards and in a squatter camp in Tlhabane. This contributes to overcrowding in Tlhabane and social problems. The sewer system in Tlhabane is stressed. Single men living in the community contributes expansion of shebeens and encourages prostitution which exposure these men and young girls to HIV aids.

3. Temporary workers create squatter camps
Unemployed people seeking work in Xstrata have created a squatter camp called Yizo Yizo in Tlhabane. The squatter camp has led to many problems.
– There are health problems due to the absence of any services (water, sewage etc.)
– There are social problems such as crime
– There is potential for xenophobic conflict since many of the unemployed are “foreigners from countries such as Zimbabwe and Mozambique. There has already been a conflict over an allegation that a Zimbabwean gang was active in the area.

4. Xstrata only talks with Councillors
There is a feeling among people in the community that Xstrata prefers to relate only with MEC’s and Councillors and not the community. In community meetings, the councillors object to criticism of Xstrata. People in the community believe that councillors defend Xstrata because they get rewards in the form of money and contracts. There is a case where an asthma case linked to the fumes from the smelter, given to an MEC was abandoned because the MEC received a contract from Xstrata.

Community Problems

1. Social Problems
We experience many social problems in Tlhabane township. We believe that rather than strike up deals with Councillors, Xstrata should assist the community deal with these problems.
– Tlhabane, as one of the oldest “townships” does not have proper recreational facilities ( parks, sports ground etc)
– Alcoholism is increasing at an alarming rate
– Teenage pregnancy has tremendously increased.
– Many young people resort to drug abuse.
– There is no proper sanitation at all the recreational facilities that are there. NB: There are no toilets at all in the so called parks in Tlhabane.
– Shebeens outnumber churches in our township.
– Recent funerals are mostly of young people.
– We would like to propose that the Tlhabane Sun which has recently been auctioned be developed as a community centre.

2. Manipulation of the Tendering System
Municipal infrastructure projects such as paving the sidewalks can be used to develop work for young people as well as small business opportunities for people in Tlhabane. However these tenders are manipulated by people in the Municipality officials to benefit their friends and themselves.

3. Title Deeds
The community has been fighting for title deeds for their properties for some time but they have not been successful.

4. Waste Management
Waste management is a big problem in Tlhabane. This is due to a lack of awareness on the part of the community and a poor service by the council.