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Rural Eastern Cape Communities take on Shell - file second Wild Coast interdict

Two protesters held placards at the Paradise Motors Shell service station on the M3. They were opposing Shell's seismic surveys along the Wild Coast. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Two protesters held placards at the Paradise Motors Shell service station on the M3. They were opposing Shell's seismic surveys along the Wild Coast. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Dec 2, 2021

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‘Our ancestors will curse us’ - communities seek a separate interdict against Shell's exploration on the Wild Coast

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Sustaining the Wild Coast (SWC) and several Wild Coast communities including fisherman, traditional leaders and healers , have filed papers seeking to interdict Shell’s seismic survey on the Wild Coast.

SWC, together with the Dwesa-Cwebe Communal Property Association, fishermen – Ntsindiso Nongcavu (Port St Johns), Sazise Maxwell Pekayo and Cameron Thorpe (Kei Mouth) – Amadiba traditional leader and healer Mashona Wetu Dlamini and All Rise Attorneys for Climate and Environmental Justice have applied for an urgent interdict against Shell’s seismic survey off the Wild Coast.

This application is separate from the urgent application brought by Cullinan and Associates for the Border Deep Sea Angling Association, Kei Mouth Ski Club, Natural Justice, and Greenpeace that was heard on Wednesday. Judgment on that interdict is expected tomorrow.

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Sinegugu Zukulu, speaking on behalf of SWC, said: "Our application for an urgent interdict is based on the simple fact that Shell does not have an environmental authorisation in terms of the National Environmental Management Act for this survey.

“We know that this survey was approved in 2014 but it is now 2021 and we need to ensure that any illegal offshore exploration is not allowed by our government through negligence or misinterpretation of changes in law since 2014. We are calling for an immediate halt to the survey and that no seismic surveying be allowed without a proper Environmental Authorisation (EA).”

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Speaking to Simply Green, he said that all the rights granted to Shell were done without consultation with the very communities that live in the area.

“An EA will ensure that the views of the people of South Africa, particularly those of rural Eastern Cape Coastal communities, are taken into account in a decision about offshore oil and gas exploration and extraction.

“These are the people who will be most affected by any negative impacts of exploration and extraction. An EA will also ascertain the wisdom of doing a seismic survey in the unique and famously biodiverse marine ecosystems of the Wild Coast in the light of new research that has been done in the years since 2014.

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“We cannot allow this exploration to be approved and proceed on the basis of outdated and inadequate research.

“Our descendants will curse us for that stupidity and the desecration of the beautiful Wild Coast which sustains us and attracts and inspires nature lovers from across the globe.

“Indigenous people, living on communally owned land occupy 20% of the earth's land but protect 80% of the earth's remaining biodiversity.

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“Domestic and international law is increasingly recognising the rights of these indigenous communities but Shell’s process with regards to this survey, enabled by Minister Gwede Mantashe of Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, has not recognized these rights. Together, Shell and Gwede are behaving like the colonial and apartheid powers that came before them by not listening to the indigenous communities of the Wild Coast who have lived in harmony with the ocean for centuries and rely on it for their physical and spiritual well being.

“The impacts of climate change are being felt all across South Africa and the world and the extraction of fossil fuel off our coast will contribute to more catastrophic climate change that will affect the whole human family.

“As indigenous people we feel the need and the responsibility to protect the ocean for the well being of all of us. Ulwandle Yimpilo – The Ocean is Life. That is why we are seeking this urgent interdict.”

The lawyers acting for the applicants in this case are the Legal Resources Centre and Richard Spoor Inc, Attorneys.

Zukulu said the lawyers were to have filed the interdict yesterday, and he would confirm later if this had been done.

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