Nearly two hundred civil society organisations from 74 countries, including South Africa, have written an open letter to South African President Jacob Zuma to mark the second-month anniversary of the brutal assassination of South African community and land rights activist Sikhosiphi Rhadebe. Mr Rhadebe was killed on 22 March 2016 by unknown assailants using firearms.
The letter urges President Zuma to condemn Mr Rhadebe’s killing, bring the perpetrators to justice and to protect members of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, the community group that Mr Rhadebe belonged to and was the chair of, from further persecution. Although the case has been handed over to South Africa’s elite Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation (also known as the Hawks) no progress appears to have been made.
“We have heard nothing from the Hawks. We would have expected that by now at least some suspects would have been apprehended, says Mzamo Dlamini, Deputy Chair of the Amadiba Crisis Committee. “It worries us deeply that the politicians have been silent on the matter of the murder while we fight for the land of our ancestors.”
The Amadiba Crisis Committee is engaged in an unequal struggle against titanium mining operations in the pristine Wild Coast region of South Africa’s Eastern Cape province. Its members have been attacked and intimidated by the proponents of mining in the area on several occasions in the past often with the connivance of local authorities. The community group is concerned that dust generated by open cast mining will cause severe health problems and use up scarce communal water sources. Mining activities could also possibly lead to relocation of the local community from their traditional lands and interfere with agricultural activities. The Amadiba Crisis Community has been opposed to the activities of Australian mining company, Mineral Commodities Limited (MRC) and its South African subsidiaries Transworld Energy and Minerals and Xolco.
“The David and Goliath struggle between the Amadiba Crisis Committee and the mining giants is one that is being played out in several places in South Africa and around the world,” said Mandeep Tiwana, Head of Policy and Research at CIVICUS. “We are urging President Zuma to do the right thing here and put the weight of his high office behind the public interest to solve the case and bring the perpetrators to justice.”