Polokwane – Management of Bokoni Platinum Mines (BPM) in Limpopo said on Thursday they were willing to meet with protesting residents of Atok who are demanding the company implement income-generating projects.
Prudence Lebina, spokesperson from Atlatsa Resources, the company that controls and operates the mines, said BPM would meet with the community to discuss their demands.
“As far as we know, there [has been] nothing presented to us by protesters but we are going to meet [with] them and find [out] what they demand,” said Lebina.
This, after the three-day protest forced the closure of the mine, with protesters blocking roads with stones and rubble.
Residents are accusing the mining firm of allegedly failing to implement an income-generating project as reportedly agreed to in December 2015.
The income-generating project would have included chrome recovery, waste management, environmental management, a crusher plant, and social projects.
“In December 2015, the mine committed that the income-generating project will be implemented on behalf of the community,” said community spokesperson Malope Lesufi.
“We then appointed a professional company to help us because we did not have money to run [it].”
With the apparent breakdown in relations and alleged failure of BPM to honour its commitment, the Atok community have turned to protests.
On this, Lesufi said the community would not sit by and watch wealth being exploited from “our ancestral land”.
“Now [it is] resistance versus defiance, they can arrest people but that is not a solution,” said Lesufi, referring to police intervention.
“The situation will return to normal when they implement [the] social labour policy and fulfill the promise made in minerals policy acts,” he said.
Meanwhile, police moved swiftly to salvage a truck from being torched by angry protesters. Three trucks have already been burnt out during the ongoing protests.
Police spokesman Malesela Ledwaba said an arson case and malicious damage to property case had been opened.
“Two vehicles were damaged and three trucks set alight,” said Ledwaba.
Armed police continued to keep watch of the protesters, with skeletons of trucks, ash, smoke, and stones bearing testimony to the tense atmosphere in Atok.