LOOK: Melmoth community up in arms to stop Jindal from establishing iron ore mine in rural Ntembeni

The protesting community of Ntembeni who are opposed to a mine by Jindal. Picture: Supplied

The protesting community of Ntembeni who are opposed to a mine by Jindal. Picture: Supplied

Published Jul 26, 2023


Jindal Mining's bid to establish an iron ore mine in the largely agricultural rural area of Ntembeni in Melmoth in northern KwaZulu-Natal, has been met with fierce opposition.

On Wednesday, the angry community of the area largely dependent on sugar cane farming picketed against the Indian mining company, telling it to pack up and leave their ancestral land.

The community blockaded the R66 which connects Eshowe, Ulundi, Vryheid, Nongoma, Pongola and other parts in the north of the province.

Traffic came to a standstill. Picture: Supplied

They alleged that the mining activities are going to force hundreds of households from tribal land they occupied for decades.

The blocked R66 near Melmoth. Picture: Supplied

They also alleged that mining activity would also be conducted on top of their relatives' graves.

The political leadership of the IFP-led Mthonjaneni (Melmoth) Local Municipality led by Mayor Mbangiseni Biyela, confirmed the protest.

It tried to intervene and calm down the protests. However, the residents were having none of it, saying their protest was not aimed at the municipality, but at the mining firm.

The police had to intervene. Picture: Supplied

In one recorded heated exchange between the community and a local Jindal representative, the community told a man identified as Gcabashe, to leave their area.

— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) July 26, 2023

“Sir, when I look at you, I get teary. You left your own village and came here to harass us with a mine. I am sure in your area there is no mine, but you came to open it here because Ntembeni is free for all. As of today, right now, please pack all your stuff and leave our area. We don’t want to see you here tomorrow morning," an unidentified resident told Gcabashe whose first name was not obtained.”

The rush to mine iron ore in the area started earlier this year when it was announced that, after years of exploration starting around 2011, the precious mineral had been discovered.

In a public meeting two months ago, other community members welcomed the mine, saying it would bring economic benefits.

However, others said there wouldn’t be any benefits, as even job opportunities would be taken by people from outside.

Jindal was asked to comment regarding the allegations by the community, and their comment will be added as soon as it is received.

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