Ikwezi mine protesters’ court case postponed
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DURBAN - THE court case of the three activists charged for public violence during a protest last month at an Ikwezi coal mine in Dannhauser has been postponed until May 10.
It was postponed at the Dannhauser Magistrate’s Court on Monday morning pending a decision from the senior public prosecutor on whether to transfer the case to one of the regional courts in Newcastle or Dundee.
Environmental justice action organisation groundWork’s Tsepang Molefe said: “The prosecutors are still busy viewing the video footage allegedly showing the three accused hurling stones at a police vehicle at the mine during the protest. They are still yet to make a decision on whether to go ahead with prosecuting them.”
Simon Delaney, the three activists attorney, said: “At this point we have to wait and see what the video footage is. We have to wait for the police to finish their investigation. We don’t know what their case against us is really as they are still speculating at this stage.”
Nkanyiso Mthombeni, from the Newcastle Environmental Justice Alliance, said the activists had laid charges of unlawful arrest and assault against the police at the Dannhauser police station two weeks ago.
The Daily News had previously reported that certain members of the mine’s security team had held one of the protester’s illegally until the police arrived and gave the crowd 10 minutes to disperse.
Mthombeni said: “The police used excessive force and shot at us using stun grenades and rubber bullets. The people were peaceful and did not provoke anybody.
“The mine is still adamant that they are not responsible for the police firing at the crowd, but we have video footage showing the mine’s director, Bonani Ndlovu, giving them instructions.”
Ndlovu responded saying that the events of Friday, March 12, 2021 “were very disappointing as time and resources had been made available to discuss the matters with the protesters”.
“However, the protesters resorted to blocking the road to the mine, thereby disturbing the flow of traffic and staff personnel, which led the law enforcement agencies to act. Thereafter, we witnessed the throwing of stones by protesters leading to some people getting injured, which led to the arrest of a few individuals, including the leaders of the protesters.”
Ndlovu said that law enforcement was currently investigating allegations that the leaders of the protesters were conducting a smear campaign against coal mining in general.
“Thus they are misleading poor communities and spreading misinformation, while at the same time attempting to extort money from the company.”
One of the protesters who was charged, Buhle Kunene, said she was sad at the outcome and felt that justice was being delayed.
“We are not guilty and everything was supposed to end today. If they say they have the video, they should have just played it today for everyone to see,” said Kunene.