The DA calls on Mineral Resources Minister, Susan Shabangu, to initiate an investigation into the Idwala colliery without delay, following reports today that the Gupta-owned mining company is operating without a water licence and breaking environmental laws.
She should also explain why her department has not stopped the company from mining illegally.
The DA will also request that the Public Protector, Adv Thuli Madonsela, investigate whether the reason for the failure to act on the illegal operations is linked to political interference.
The allegations against Idwala must be taken seriously. It is alleged that it:
Violated the Biodiversity Act when it destroyed part of a wetland;
Diverted a public road without permission;
Released contaminated water without a license; and
Diverted the Rietspruit River without permission.
It remains unclear how such flagrant violations of environmental and mining law could go unnoticed by the Department, without any sanction whatsoever.
Indeed, it reeks of political meddling, which must be the subject of a full-scale and independent investigation. Should this be proved true, such interference must be stopped, the mines involved prosecuted, and officials or politicians involved investigated in terms of the law.
In the meantime, the Department must take all necessary steps to ensure that the law is abided by and respected by Idwala and that no further illegal abuse of the environment is tolerated. The DA will submit questions in Parliament to monitor this progress.
It is entirely unacceptable that South Africa's mineral wealth is being mined illegally and the environment destroyed, seemingly with the consent of the Department of Mineral Resources. Urgent action is now needed.