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Anglo American accused of failing to fulfil social responsibility to Rustenburg community

Anglo American allegedly failed to build 1 000 houses it promised to a Rustenburg community about 12 years ago. Picture: Reuters

Anglo American allegedly failed to build 1 000 houses it promised to a Rustenburg community about 12 years ago. Picture: Reuters

Published Aug 3, 2022

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Rustenburg – Global mining giant Anglo American is accused of failing to fulfil part of its part of the bargain for a mining community which is hosting it in Rustenburg in the North West.

The mining company allegedly failed to build 1 000 houses it promised to the community about 12 years ago.

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Instead, the global mining giant only delivered 350 of those housing units and they are now falling apart.

These allegations are contained in a petition which was delivered to the mining company on Monday.

The petition was started by George Thapedi Mthombeni, a resident of Seraleng Extension 1, near Rustenburg in the North West where the company is mining platinum.

“It has been over 12 years since Anglo American (“Anglo”) undertook to build approximately 1 000 houses for my community, comprising former Anglo employees. Anglo ultimately only built around 350 houses, most of which were sold to community members.

“However, shortly after our community moved into our new homes the houses began to show signs of defect, including cracks, falling ceilings and leaking water. Many of the houses are in a state of collapse, and are increasingly unlivable.

“Our community made numerous attempts to try and resolve these issues with Anglo including face-to-face meetings and countless letters, but these attempts were met with inaction from the mining giant, which simply plastered over the symptoms without addressing the cause of the failing houses,” Mthombeni alleged in the petition.

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Furthermore, Mthombeni said in 2017 his community took the initiative of approaching the Constitutional Court directly for legal relief and vindication of their right to proper housing.

However, the apex court dismissed their application and advised them to consult the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (Cals), a public interest law clinic based at Wits University

The centre, on behalf of the community, then consulted a structural engineering expert who concluded in 2019 that the construction of our houses’ foundations was incompatible with the clay soil prevalent in the area, resulting in serious defects in the houses.

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“In response, from 2020 Anglo commissioned their own engineering experts to assess the cause of our defective houses. Anglo received a preliminary engineering report in February 2022, but has not yet completed the investigation or shared any preliminary findings with our community.

“We believe that the investigation and report contain important indications as to whether the community can hold Anglo properly accountable for the sub-standard construction of our homes, and accordingly access justice for the rights violations we continue to experience,” he said.

Mthombeni said all what they want now is that Anglo American delivers on their decades-old commitment to provide adequate housing for the community in Seraleng.

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“It should also finalise the engineering investigations and shares their expert engineering report with the Seraleng community, so that our community may understand the nature and cause of our defective houses.”

Nomonde Ndwalaza, external communication principal from Anglo American platinum mining division, said they were working on the matter.

“Anglo American Platinum confirms that land in Seraleng was donated in 2008/9 to employees as part of an employer-assisted housing scheme. Anglo American Platinum donated the land in good faith to enable mining employees to build their own funded houses that formed part of a broader mining industry agreement with the Rustenburg Municipality.

“Unfortunately, we have since received reports of infrastructure concerns and, in line with our commitment to having open channels of communication with our communities, we commissioned a study into the causes of the concerns raised. The study is at the final stage of a geotechnical investigation on some of the identified housing stands.

“The geotechnical investigation has recently received approval from the Rustenburg local municipality and is set to commence in the next few weeks. We are committed to sharing the findings of this study with the Seraleng community once completed, and we will continue to engage with Cals and the homeowners,” she said.

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