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Anti-fracking protesters gathered at Parliament, calling on all South Africans to join them in the stand to prevent “polluting oil and gas industries destroying our people’s land and scarce water resources for their corporate profit”.
More than 100 people protested, with organiser Marina Louw leading the demand for “a renewable, sustainable energy future for all”.
On Saturday was unofficially declared Global Anti-fracking Day, and protests around the world were backed by Sean Ono Lennon, son of Yoko Ono and the late Beatle John Lennon.
Earlier this month, the government lifted its 14-month moratorium on fracking, paving the way for exploration drilling to scout for shale gas resources.
Exploration areas now cover six of SA’s nine provinces.
Last week, the Department of Mineral Resources released the full report on the government’s investigation into fracking.
But the 84-page document, written by Gideon Steyl of the chemistry department of the University of the Free State (UFS); Gerrit van Tonder, of the Institute for Groundwater Studies, also at UFS; and Luc Chevallier of the Council for Geoscience, urges the government to tread carefully.
Meanwhile, Lennon became so enraged with a woman on Twitter who called him and his mother hypocritical that he told her: “You are an argument for abortion.”
Lennon, 36, and his mother recently founded Artists Against Fracking, a group that campaigns against the extraction of natural gas and petroleum by fracturing rock. The group and its cause have attracted major backing in liberal Hollywood.
Last month, Lennon wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times in which he said: “Surely the voice of the ‘sensible centre’ would ask to stop all hydraulic fracturing so that our water, our lives and our planet could be protected and preserved for generations to come.”
Yesterday, Treasure Karoo Action Group chairman Jonathan Deal said: “We are not convinced that fracking is the only way for the government to obtain resources. We have been asking for transparency from various departments, but we have not heard from them.”
He said a decision on fracking would have to include the views of tourism experts, doctors and economists. It would have to be “a more inclusive process so the best possible decision can be made. Once this type of process is established, we should look at the outcomes of fracking, and then make the final decision.”
Deal also expressed fears that the government’s judgment had been clouded by the promise of big money by major oil companies.
Bishop Geoff Davies of the SA Faith Communities Environment Institute said the money promised for fracking should be used to develop natural energy facilities.
“The sun shines every day upon us and the wind blows through us every day, so why can we not use these natural resources for our future? Instead they want to destroy our natural land, and poison our water,” said Davies.