Makhaza residents join in anti-fracking protest
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KAROO-BORN Thuli January-Tshofela was excited when she first heard that “big companies” were to start fracking near her home town.
She’d moved to Cape Town to find work and believed this would be her opportunity to return to the tiny Karoo town of Pearston.
“There’s nothing there,” she said.
“Pearston is a small town. There’s no factories or shops for people to work in.”
Like many others in her town, January-Tshofela moved to Cape Town 11 years ago in the hope of securing a viable job. She now lives in Khayelitsha with her husband and two children, working as a volunteer cleaning up wetlands.
“Everyone was excited when we heard Shell was going to a farm near Pearston to look for gas, because there would be jobs for us. At first I was very excited. I thought I could go home,” she said. But after attending an Earthlife Africa Cape Town workshop in Makhaza on fracking – a means of extracting gas from the earth – January-Tshofela now lives in fear that it will be allowed in the Karoo.
“I’m very afraid and worried for my town because I know it’s very small,” she said.
“Fracking will make the water bad and I’m scared my people will get sick.”
January-Tshofela was one of some 150 people, many of them from Makhaza, who took part in a protest in Green Point against fracking yesterday.
They gathered in Green Point Park, brandishing posters that read: “Our health vs corporate wealth,” “There is no planet B,” and “Renewables Now!”.
They then marched through the park and across the promenade.
Muna Lakhani, branch co-ordinator of Earthlife Africa Cape Town, which organised the protest, said poor people and farmworkers would be the most affected by fracking, yet many of them were uneducated about what fracking was and what its impact would be.
“This get-together is to help break that barrier between poor and middle class people.
“We’re bringing poor people into traditionally white areas to show that we all stand together in the fight against fracking,” said Lakhani.
In addressing the crowd, Earthlife Africa volunteer Marina Louw described fracking as “the civil rights issue of our time”.
She said that while fracking did create jobs, this was a short-term solution to job creation, and the cost to the environment was “just too big”.
“The impact on our environment will be devastating. We want to see our government investing in renewables and sustainable energy,” said Louw.