There's a gap in the mining licence application process where mining companies and government departments systematically disregard key pieces of legislation.
This is according the revelation by the South African Human Rights Commission in its investigative report on the underlying socio-economic challenges of mining-affected communities in South Africa.
The commission said when it comes to land use management, mining companies, the departments of Mineral Resources and Rural Development and Land Reform disregarded legislation, especially the Municipal System Act, the Spatial Land Use Management Act 31 of 1996 and the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act 31 of 1996.
"The commission notes with concern that municipalities are frequently not consulted. Municipalities are sometimes unaware of the fact that mining licences have been granted within their area of jurisdiction," the report read in part.
The commission said the establishment of mines contributed to the significant population growth as a result of an influx of migrants.
"Whereas South Africa's population between 2002 and 2011 grew by approximately 16%, the population growth along the platinum belt in Rustenburg and Madibeng (in North West), grew by 40% over the same period, with the population of Rustenburg increasing from 300 000 to around 1 million.
"The rapid influx places an incredible strain on municipal planning and on the ability of municipalities to deliver basic services. Insufficient housing gives rise to the development of informal settlements, whereas old and aging bulk infrastructure is unable to cater for increased need," the report reads.
It further states that as a result of the influx, many people live in deplorable and unsafe conditions without access to basic services.
"Many miners and surrounding communities live in housing made up predominantly of snacks, with no lighting or electricity, no refuse collection, and oftentimes, no water connection or adequate sanitation facilities," the report found.
DMR and DRDLR spokespersons Ayanda Shezi and Phuti Mabelebele said the departments were studying the report and would comment in due course.
The Minerals Council South Africa said the report’s complex findings and recommendations include a number of recommendations and directives that involve the Minerals Council itself.
"These will need to be carefully studied and considered. Once the Minerals Council has done so and consulted its policy and decision-making structures, a comprehensive response will be lodged with the SAHRC and with the public.”
External panelist Tracy-Lynn Humby said the report will not mean anything "unless it is cast with the perspective of the victims and leads to meaningful change for them.”
The commission also warned that the findings and recommendations were binding.
Commissioner Jonas Sibanyoni said those whom the recommendations and directives have been made will have to respond to the report.
“I would like to emphasise that we would like to see the recommendations being implemented. There is a way forward. There is action. We will see to it that this report does not collect dust,” Sibanyoni said.
Another commissioner, Mohamed Ameermia, said the commission would engage government on the report and will monitor where there is compliance and non-compliance.
“This time, the Human Rights Commission will invoke its powers to make sure that there is accessibility to justice is realised by people whom the Constitution seeks to promote, protects and advance their rights,” Ameermia said.
The Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) head of mining programme Catherine Horsfield said the commission should use its “powers to ensure that both authorities and mining companies implement these findings”.