Styldrift Shaft 1 An Unwanted Squatter in our Village (Chaneng) by Olebogeng Motene
“If your cows are stolen, it’s fine because the meat will be roasted and feed people but if your land is stolen you can never forgive and forget”.
- In 2008 our community had an uninvited guest, little did they know that this unwelcomed guest’s intention was to stick around and distract our way of life. This guest named Styldrift project (started sinking now called Styldrift 1 shaft). This mining activity has resulted to community experiencing environmental destructions such as poor air quality, water pollution, and social challenges such increasing population, unemployment, high rate of HIV/AIDS, and cracked houses. As if it was not enough that our land taken without our permission, an African proverb states “If your cows are stolen, it’s fine because the meat will roasted and feed people but if your land is stolen you can never forgive and forget” simply because land is our way of living, it feeds us, natures us and it’s were we lay our loved ones to rest. The existence of this operating has led to what I would call uprisings, one after the other where by youth question its legitimacy and demonstrate and get arrested. Just this year 12 youth were arrested, the first group of 6 were arrested after life ammunition were shot, they were beaten up by mine police before handing them to the SAPS, and second were detained without bail and no medical attention on wounds and bruises caused by rubber bullets for 7 days. This research will hopefully answer to how has the Styldrift 1 Shaft affected lives of farming families in Chaneng. I conducted my research in Chaneng village from the 27th August until 31st of October 2013.
I wish to acknowledge Collen Raphata for his help in identifying people to interview and setting up appointments, thank you.
- Chaneng village is situated 45 km North of Rustenburg, in the Bojanala District North West province which forms part of the Rustenburg Local municipality under the tribal authority of the Royal Bafokeng Nation. The community of Chaneng comprises of +/- 400 households that lives in the Styldrift 90 JQ and Boschkoppies 104 JQ farms. This village is divided into eight sections namely Ramotene, Ramogotsi, Makgakgane, Matolokwane, Atamelang, Riverside and Blaaigworie and four Makgotla namely Matebele, Phokeng, Ramogotsi and Setshoane. The community used to live at Rabubi which is situated near Elands River called Kgetleng, they lived in mud houses, and used land for crop farming, land which they purchased through selling their cattle. The community of Rabupi relocated between the years 1840 and 1900 to Chaneng. The community is surrounded by mining activities of the following companies; Styldrift Shaft 1, Xtrata Merafe Smelters, Bafokeng Rasimone Platinum, Impala 20 Shaft, Andru open cast, Masive and Wesizwe platinum. Currently Stlydrift farm is known as Royal Bafokeng Platinum Stlydrift Shaft 1, which is a mining operation owned in partnership by Royal Bafokeng Holdings and Anglo Platinum, population is increasing daily as a results of backroom dwellers whom are employees of the mines surrounding our community, the community is experiencing poor air and water quality, houses are cracked, overpopulated clinic and unemployment.
1.1 List of Interviewees
Conducted five interviews with the following classes/categories: farm owners and employees
- Three farmers :
Was enough fortunate to interview three interviewees whom are from families that are directly affected.
- One employee:
The family of the interviewee owned a farm as well but were not active in farming on it due costs. And her son was an employee to one of the farmers as well.
- Representative of the community in the land claim court case
The interviewee knows the oral history of the community.
1.2 taking pictures
- Used both the cell phone and digital camera.
1.3 Challenges faced
- All of my interviewees have been through the process of being questioned about how their lives have changed after the land disposition and they have grown tired of sharing their stories with nothing tangible results. And it seemed as they have given false hope by previous researchers, journalist and so on. Again the fear of not being compensated because they exposing the issue. I had one of my interviewee telling me “young lady do not write down my name, I do not want to lose out just in case Mokoena (Bafokeng Chief) decide to pay us our money”, so they fear that they might be victimised. I had five farmer owners, who confirmed our appointments, but the minutes they heard why I asked to meet with them two cancelled the interview, but for those that agreed to share their stories I’ve learned enough about our Village and am grateful.
The community of Chaneng was formally known as the Rapubi community. This community purchased land by selling their cattle; in the year 1873 5 elderly men in the community purchased the Stlydrift farm with the tittle deed no 583 now changed to JQ 90, which is 4513 size in hectares. This farm was later transferred into the name of a local missionary. Over the years when a man got married he would be granted a piece of land for agricultural activities from the farm. These farms were inherited from one generation to the other for over 60 years.
1.1 Names of land buyers
This is a list of old men who were Chaneng community members, who sold their cattle to purchase the Styldrift farm.
– Ramotene Onias Motene
– Mokua Raphokobyane
– Jan Peku Raphatlha
1.2 families that owned farms
This is a list of families that owned farms before Stlydrift 1 Shaft started its operations. These families inherited their farms from their ancestors. Some may be not mentioned on the list.
1.3 Consultation before the mine operation
The entire affected families and the overall community of Chaneng were never consulted about what was indented to be done on these farms. On the year 2008 this came as a shock to the community. They were invited to join in to the launch of the project were the Bafokeng Chief was present. There was never a meeting to inform them about the impacts of this project rather they were told that “farming is no longer done on surface, we now farm underground.
There hasn’t been any compensation or offer of alternative land for the farms to continue with their farming activities. Families’ hope of being compensated has died over the years.
1.5 current means of survival due to loss of income
The families loss their source of income and they were not affected alone, their employees and the entire community. Farming was also source of food, now burdened by high costs of maize meal. Within the farm owners there were those who owned tractors and would rent them out to others, now they just parked to rust, unless there is funeral, wedding that’s when they are rented to collect wood, or when community plough in their yards other than that they just unused. One of the interviewees said that “we survive on social grants”. And others rent out the backrooms or build some for mine workers, and farmer’s children who managed to further their studies are employed.
The Chaneng community are the 7th respondent opposing the land claim application by the Royal Bafokeng Nation, the case is in North West high court Mafikeng with case no 999/2008. On the 23 January 2010 Ms Letlhogonolo March Motene was granted permission to represent the community on the case by 142 adults of the community. However the Chaneng Kgotla was reluctant to pass the resolution in support of the opposition as they feared being victimised.
The case was in court on the 31st of October and the 1st of November and all the opposing respondent are optimistic that the ruling which will take place before February of the next year will be good.
Responses from the interviewees
First interviewee – R1
On the September the 11th Collen and I meet with R1, a male on his late 50’s, employed, married and has children. His father inherited the farm from his grandfather 50 years ago, he was the third child. The Stlydrift project has constructed a road to the project on his family farm. Just like the rest of the farmers they were never consulted. His father had seven children, six males and one female and of all seven, four had tertiary level education. When his father passed away in 2005 the farm was left to his mother. They farmed maize and sunflower, back in the days they used donkeys and in the past 30 years they used tractors which are now just sitting and waiting to rust as they hardly get used. They last farmed maize in 2007 a year before the mining project, they used to employ 10 to 15 seasonal workers and had one permanent employee. “Not only did we lose our source of income, but we also lost our food source and this has affected us emotionally” R1 says. They used to save few kilos of maize at the meal for their consumption, so now they have to spend money to buy maize meal, which was never the case for the past 50 years. During the whole interview R1 looked down and had a very sad face when he said “when you lose something you get mad and angry, but when our family lost our farm that we had invested time on and was our passion, I got frustrated” as I wonder what causes this frustration he further adds that’s “I feel we have been robbed of our way of life and no one seems to be accountable”. After harvest season they would feed their livestock with leftover crops in the farm. “Our livestock has been directly affected” R1 says. There was no consultation, no compensation and no offer to alternative land, and the family tried the legal route by applying at High court, “out case is registered at high court in 2008, but its hell expensive, and with no farming we are financially unable to keep up”. He feels it would have been better I they were offered an alternative land to continue farming.
Second interviewee – named R2
18th of September I meet up with R2 male, on his late 40’s, married and has children. He is the third generation after his father to inherit the farm that Stlydrift Project is operating on half of the portion of the land without consultation and no compensation. His father inherited the farm from his grandfather, and this farm had been owned by the family for over sixty years, when inherited it. His father had nine children five females and four males, and only R2 has matric and mining courses, “I studied using money our family made from the farm, now we stuck even some of my children couldn’t further their studies as I had hoped” R2 said. He recalls that they used donkeys during ploughing season and in the past twenty-five years they were using tractors and they farmed maize and sunflower, had about 15 seasonal workers, which means 15 families benefited from their faming activity, with a sad face he said “both me and my brother Peter had seasonal workers families who depended on our farming, but now life has changed”. The farm feed the family, R2 said -“we would sell the crops and keep few kilos of maize at the meal for our maize meal consumption”. He was never consulted, he recalls being told that no farming activities are allowed on mining property when he went to prepare the field for ploughing so went to the RBA to enquire and all he got was a promise that they will get back to him till today. They cannot afford to pay lawyers so getting help from legal aid would be great, in the main time the family hopes for compensation.
Third interviewee – named R3
On September the 12th I meet up with a 72year old pensioner R3a single mother of eight, who lost five of her children; she lives in an RDP house with her daughter, her four granddaughters, her one grandson and her two great granddaughters in a three room house. She was a seasonal worker at Mr Mmope’s farm, earning R75 per day, few years later her son also worked at Matjila’s farm as a tractor driver earning R100 per day, now currently unemployed and depends on her mother’s income. R3 is now working on the community work programme under the Department of Cooperate Governance earning R500 per fourth night. Her family also had a farm on which they used donkeys during, once their family donkeys were stolen their farming activity was destructed but they still had pride of owning a portion of land,
Fourth interviewee – named R4
My forth interviewee is male in his late 40’s, has a life partner, 5 children and 2 grandchildren and unemployed. He owned a farm and ploughed sunflower, maize and sorghum. He would employ 10-15 seasonal employees, had 1 permanent tractor driver. He owns 2 tractors, that are now just parked and doing nothing unless if a member of a community hires it. Very reluctant to respond to most questions, he stated that “I lost hope of compensation, it would help if they considered looking at business plans”, the way he responded one could sense fear of being victimised if the process of compensation start. R4 feels that he has told his story too many people, and that might implicate him in the long run.
Firth interviewee – granted permission for her name to be stated
Ms Letlhogonolo March Motene is a single mother of 1, has 2 grandchildren and unemployed. She lives in her late parents’ house. Ms Motene is very familiar with the oral history of the Chaneng community. On the 23rd of January 2010 she was granted authority to represent the Chaneng Community by 142 adults if the community in opposition of the land claim application made by the Royal Bafokeng Nation. The community of Chaneng is the 7th respondent on the case, however the Kgotla of Chaneng were a bit reluctant to pass the resolution due to fear of getting in trouble with the Chief. Styldrift farm were purchased in the year 1873 by 5 men namely Ramotene Onias Mote, Mokua Raphokobyane, Rakgomo, Jan Raphatlha and the fifth person kwon as Molongwane was the cattle Shepard and he knew the farms very well, he buyers sold their cattle to purchase the land perhaps that’s how he ended up being mentioned as the fifth buyer. After land was purchased the tittle deeds were transferred to the name of the local missionary known as Penhmzone as blacks were not to entitle to be in position of land. Once a male child in family gets married he would go apply for a yard for his house at his Kgotla and the headman would go to the Chief to apply for the yard and he would be given a yard and a a piece of land for agricultural activities and that’s how people ended up owning farms. These farms were being passed on from one generation to the next. The families that are known to own farms are Motene, Moteke, Mokua, Mmope, Mabule, Matjila, kole, Tsele, Katane, Raphatha, Masilo, Poane.
The implications of findings
Almost all of the interviewee stated that they fear victimisation. And if the communities who opposed the Royal Bafokeng Nation land claim application win the case, there might be conflicts in between the families of land buyers and farm owners. This may raise the question of who should be compensated, have equity shareholding? So this might mean a community conflict over who should benefit from the operation.
- Offer of alternative land for farming
- Community equity shareholding
- Monetary compensation to the affected families
- All families affect to start a cooperate or company that may render service to the mine
Chaneng community purchased land and portions of the land were given to families for their farming activities, these farms were passed on from generation to generation, these farms benefited the farming family and the community at large by providing employment, and cheaper maize meal. In 2008 a mining operation put a stop the community way of live. “Styldift will always be like an unwanted skwatter camp in our village until the day they account for all the trouble they caused in our village”- member of youth noted. This research was conducted to discover how the lives of the farmers and those who benefited from their farming have been affected. One can conclude by saying that the Styldrift project has brought poverty and unhappiness that never existed in the community of Chaneng and the owners of the mine have no remorse. And that the community of Chaneng is of the examples that the mining industries together with Chiefs keep undermining communities they operate in.
1. Who is the owner of the farm/land?
2. If the current owner inherited the farm/land from whom did he inherit from?
3. What was farmed on the farm?
4. Do you have a title deed or any document proving ownership?
5. How many children does the owner have?
6. How many have attended a higher education institute?
7. How many workers got employed?
8. Any permanent employees?
9. How much was the farming income?
10. Was there any consultation?
11. Any compensation?
12. Any legal steps taken?
13. When last did they use the farm?
14. How many years have they been using the farm?
15. What are your wishes and hopes regarding the issue?
– David Van Wyk in collaboration with Bench Marks Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility and Bench Marks community Monitoring School.
Policy Gap 6 – A review of Platinum Mining in the Bojanala District of the North West Province. A Participatory Action Research (PAR) Approach.
– Rustenburg Community Report 2011
Defending our Land, Environment and Human Rights
– Community Monitors Action Network
Police brutality and detention without trial on Human rights day
Chaneng strikes, who benefits?
– Bafokeng Land Buyers Association (bafokeng –communities.blogspot.com)
The collapse of the Royal Bafokeng case at the Mafikeng High Court
Chaneng Mogono-Chaneng-Tsitsing-Photsaneng Answering Affidavit.pdf
by Olebogeng Motene
Ole is an activist and resident in Chaneng and a Facilitator in the Community Monitors School.