Tunatazama - Community Monitors

Coronation, Mpumalanga: Living in a coal sinkhole

This is about an abandoned mine in an area called Coronation, where people live. The mine is no longer operating and people should know about the dangers and impacts of living next to an abandoned mine.

During my site visit to Coronation I saw a coal field which is now an abandoned mine. There are sinkholes in this area and the community’s houses are close to the sinkholes which is even more dangerous to them. The area is also a pathway for the people to the nearby town and to work.The resident  dig the dirty coal for use in their household. The fumes from this burnt coal is a  danger to them.Women who dig the coal take their children with them. This is a danger to the children’s health.

The community living in this area has also been abandoned .They are abanonded by the local  municipality. They do not have proper houses, roads and sanitation. The people live on illegal connections of water supply and electricity. The community of Coronation is surrounded by a large open  land which is not useful and no longer rich or fertile enough to use because the soil is full of sinkholes and is burning underneath. Many in the commmunity suffer from sinus and respiratory problems and complain about headaches.

As I walked through the area i spotted many big sink holes just 500 and 800 metres away from where people lived. Some sinkholes were still  burning underneath and smoke could  be seen. The air is full of the smell of coal burning.

Just about 100 metres from the sinkholes there is a stream coming from the ground.The stream flows to a pond where there is no life in it. The water tastes acidic and has a strong smell.

A community member who did not give his name said ‘the municipality refuses to provide us a proper infrastructure and sanitation because the area is full of sinkholes but there is nothing they are doing about it’.

People who live next to the abandoned mines have to be moved and the land must be rehabilitated so that people can farm and live safely nearby.

We must do more research on why the land has been abandoned and by whom and the authorities must make these companies pay the cost of rehabilitation.

By: Collen Jolobe  and Tshepo Ncube


Community resistance in Carolina

By: Lorraine Kakaza

The township of Carolina in the community of Silobela , Mpumalanga , came to a standstill when angry community members stopped normal operational routines of the mines in the area.All people stopped  going to work, all taxis were stopped from entering the location and school buses were turned away from transporting learners. Local mines were the target of the protest as they are accused of not employing the local community members even

Transalloys the main cause of respiratory diseases in Clewer, Emalahleni, Mpumalanga

By: Thabo Ncube

The community of Clewer in Witbank, Emalahleni is a small location also known as Kwamthunzi Vilakazi. This community has been complaining about the pollution that comes from Transalloys mine which is situated 500 metres away from the community. Transalloys produces silicon manganese for the world markets and  is owned by Renova mining industries, a Russian company that invested in South Africa.

On 06 September 2015 we met a resident of Clewer, Mr. Christopher Nel, a 54 years old who was an environmental officer at Transalloys for 22 years and has been residing in Witbank for about 28 years.

He said “ this company is killing us, I know the danger of the smoke that comes from that company, now they have fabricated the medium carbon ferromanganese of which is dangerous to our health because when their pelletizing furnace is not working, they release all the smoke into the air. They do not get permission to do that and the industries are paying us to kill us”.

He continued and said “proper procedures must be followed because sometimes one will think there is a mist but it’s the white smoke that comes from the furnaces when they burn the manganese with other chemicals”.

for jobs that do not require qualifications. They do nothing to empower the community of Carolina.

Protesters blocked the roads with rocks, drums, tree branches and burning tyres throughout the day. Businesses/shops were closed to prevent damages and looting.

Appointed communuity delegates  were escorted by police to meet with the executive mayor and representatives from the mines. This meeting ended up with no results.

An angry mob attacked a police officiers house, The police reacted with great force. Residents had to run for cover because the police was attacking anybody in their sight.

The main concern for the anger of Carolina residents is that there are more than 12 mining companies around Carolina and they are not doing anything to empower the local community. There is a high rate of unemployment and poverty in the area. Their concern is why the mines are not hiring the people in Carolina and train them in whatever skills that they require. The mines they say are not implementing their social labour plan which should improve the living conditions of the communities in Silobela, Carolina.

A community leaders said ‘’it’s not a sin to bring people from other places for special skills but we protest for our demands as a community from the mines for a better life and jobs so that we can provide for our loved ones as we know that mining operations wont last  long’’.

I believe that mines are investing but this goes to a tiny minority . As communities we don’t benefit from them and the youth have lost faith in believing in a better life for better future. Meetings and protests are being held but no feedback is given to the community members. The communities agenda is not even followed during meetings. Others are being bribed to keep quiet by giving them jobs and tenders. Those people are benefiting indirectly and getting the opportunities. What about the majority?

Community of Carolina in action

Air Pollution in MNS

By: Rudolph Sambo

Air pollution is one of the main problems that affects the community of MNS informal settlement in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga, South Africa. There are many trucks moving to and from the dusty gravel road in the community of MNS which is right next to the residents houses.

Coal dust particles caused by blasting in the nearby open cast mine and that of the moving trucks on the road are a big problem. This dust causes chronic diseases amongst some community members living in this area. The residents are not aware of the impacts the mines are causing in their health and the impacts they cause to the environment or the land they are occupying.

In this area there is no water or sanitation, no electricity and even a proper infrastructure such as roads and housing. The impacts that the mines are causing in that health of the people includes, kidney failure, lung diseases, TB, Sinuses etc. some patients take medication but they are not getting better because they are treated and then return back to face the same situation again.

A mine officer of Liquid Mist (MLT) mine was confronted and we were told to come back again because we didn’t make an appointment. They also said that we had no identification cards and that the manager wasn’t around.

Many problems were identified in that mine and more investigations still to be done.

The opencast mine in MNS

The white snow that pollutes our stream/wetlands

By: Susan Moraba

Vosman is a semi informal settlement in Emalahleni, Nkangala district, Mpumalanga, South Africa. This area is surrounded by mines and there is a stream and wetlands that intersect the area. The only problem that this area is facing is the acid ,ine drainage that pollutes the stream and the wetlands , from a 750 ha abandoned mine from Transvaal Delagoa Bay colliery that was not rehabilitated properly.

The area next to the stream is surrounded by white crust of Acid mine drainage that flows through to the water and polluting it. The AMD comes in a form of liquid/water from the ground to the evaporation ponds next to the stream. The impacts of the AMD are a serious concern because they are not only polluting the stream and the wetlands but have a big role that it plays to the environment as a whole.

The nearby community members are at risk because children swim in the acidic water without parental supervision or knowledge. Livestock drink the acidic water from the ponds and the biodiversity is also affected. During rainy seasons the water flows heavily and the ground is always wet and the crust of acid builds up and destroys the plants nearby. During dry seasons the acid crust dries up and forms a white powder on the ground.

The Acid water in action

According to a source (Earthcache) the colliery began operating in 1896 and closed in 1953 whereby fires during the operation began and were controlled.However fter closure some areas of the mine collapsed and subsided which resulted in this problem we facing of acid mine drainage, air pollution and the sinkholes. The rehabilitation of the mine is beyond the state because the owners of the colliery are untraceable.

This is a big problem that will take more years to be solved and the stream as well as the wetlands, the community and the other affected areas will remain polluted because of the AMD.

Investigations still continues.