Cape Town - Ahead of the global climate strike organised by the Climate Justice Coalition (CJC) this week, a demonstration was held on Wednesday outside the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s (DMRE) Cape Town offices where employees and passers-by came face-to-face with what appeared to be a gruesome crime scene with dead bodies laying in front.
The demonstration was organised by Extinction Rebellion (XR) Cape Town with assistance from other organisations that formed part of the coalition to further alert the public to the country-wide #UprootTheDMRE protest taking place at Parliament on Friday.
XR Cape Town spokesperson Michael Wolf said they were there to raise awareness on the department’s continued support for fossil fuels in the face of climate change and to hand over a letter of demand to Western Cape DMRE representatives on behalf of the coalition.
The “dead bodies” were in fact their activists playing dead to represent the various obstructions and damage the DMRE had caused and were labelled with death certificates stating their various causes of death, “signed” by the SA Government.
A few causes included organ failure (caused by dehydration due to water shortages from extreme drought) heat stress and drowning (due to extreme weather events caused by the climate crisis), smoke inhalation (due to wildfires caused by the climate crisis), poisoning (due to water contamination from fracking) and air pollution (linked to coal power stations).
The letter of demand for the regional DMRE office stated: “We are facing interconnected social, economic and ecological crises, which require us to transform our archaic and harmful energy and mining sector to ensure a more socially, economically and ecologically just future. We need transformative action now, which we are demanding.”
350.org South African team leader Glen Tyler-Davies said: “We need to remove DMRE Minister Gwede Mantashe, he has been blocking renewable energy by trying to push fossil fuels when they have already shown to be socially, economically and environmentally unjust. We want to make sure Mantashe is out of the way so that a new and transformed DMRE can come about.
“We want to make sure this new DMRE gets behind a rapid and just transition to renewable energy - in particular, transforming Eskom as our power utility because they are currently trying to move towards more affordable and clean renewable energy, but at the moment they are being blocked from doing so,” said Tyler-Davies.
Western Cape DMRE petroleum licensing director Lungisile Pakati said they were happy to receive the memorandum from the activists and as a regional office, they would process it, dispatch it to their head office for further processing and would revert back as soon as they received a response.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank you and the organisations for interacting with us and voicing some of your concerns around our work as a department. It's very good to engage and interact all the time,” said Pakati.