Somkhele community praying ahead of a long journey to Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday

DURBAN - MORE than 200 rural families affected by the presence of a coal mine held a prayer ahead of the Pietermaritzburg High Court application which is set to be heard on Friday.

The 200 family members from the Somkhele and Fuleni communities, which is situated around the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park.

One of the leaders, Israel Nkosi said they had prayed for a favourable court outcome against what he called the illegal mining by Tendele Coal company, which has proposed to expand in the area.

“We no longer have access to our ancestors' graves after we were removed. The mining is poorly fenced which is the detriment to our livestock,” Nkosi said.

He blamed the local traditional leadership and labelled them as corrupt. Nkosi alleged that the traditional leaders were unduly benefiting from the mining company while neglecting the communities plea to enforce regulation and stop its expansion.

The application has been brought to court by The Global Environment Trust (GET) and members of the iMfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organization (MCEJO) who said they believe #LawApplies2All.  

The applicants seek the court interdicts and restrains Tendele Mining Company from carrying on any mining operations in the area until it has complied with the law.

The applicants' lawyer Kirsten Youens, said he relied on the judicial system to ensure that justice is done. He stressed that law must be complied with by all.

“The environment and thousands of people’s lives are at stake,” said Youens.

Tendele Coal Mine chief operations officer Jarmi Steyn said the allegations were not true and Tendele will be opposing on Friday.

He said Tendele has always conducted its mining operations in accordance with valid mining rights and environmental management programmes (“EMPs”) that have been granted and approved by the Department of Mineral Resources and continues to do so lawfully in accordance with certain transitional arrangements that were introduced through the “One Environmental System” in December 2014.

He said those concerned continued to ignore the massive improvement of the lives of many people that the mine has brought to the area.

“This area was incredibly poor before the mine opened,” said Steyn,

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SUNDAY TRIBUNE