Desmond D'Sa from the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance pulled no punches during a community meeting with Sasol on Thursday, railing against plans to explore for oil and gas on the SA coastline. Picture Mphathi Nxumalo.
Durban - Civil society organisations have come out strongly against Sasol which wants to explore for oil and gas off the coasts of Durban and Richards Bay.

Sasol executives went to Austerville on Thursday to engage the community about their views.

Desmond D’Sa, of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, who had invited the executives, said he would never accept the oil industry.

Referring to the problems in the oil-rich Niger Delta in Nigeria, he said people in the area were living in poverty.

“We have fat cats making billions,” he said.

The meeting, attended by about 100 people, came as a result of concerns raised by various non-governmental organisations.

As part of legal requirements, Italian energy and exploration company Eni South Africa BV (Eni), have held public hearings.

The companies plan to drill at about six sites.

D’Sa said companies from Europe came to Africa to plunder its resources because they had exhausted their own.

David Naicker, a fisherman from the South Coast, said the exploration would have a devastating impact on them. There were about 30000 people who made a living off fishing along the KZN coastline, he said.

“If this comes to pass, all these fishermen’s livelihoods will be destroyed,” he said.

The meeting was also attended by people from outside the province.

Sibongile Mazia, of the South African Green Revolutionary Council, said the mining activities of Sasol had a negative impact on the community. She said the blasts during mining activities made women miscarry and people suffer heart attacks.

Mazia, who lives in Secunda, also said: “The other problem we have with Sasol is that we can see that they make profits in our country, but they never give us experience. Sasol employs people from overseas.”

John Harris, Sasol’s executive vice-president “for upstream”, said they had come to the meeting to listen to the concerns. He said he found the proceedings honest and respectful.

Harris said Sasol spent more than R700 million in social responsibility programmes in South Africa and Mozambique.

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