Unknown to many living in South Africa, the Department of Mineral Resources has signed away the soul of the East Coast. By KHALID MATHER.
Despite 2013 being a painful year for many South Africans as we laid Madiba to rest, the background machinations of the DMR would only be unearthed years later as residents of the East Coast discovered their backyard was to be plundered as a licence for off-shore oil and gas prospecting was awarded to Sasol.
In what can only be imagined as an unholy oily union, an operation by ENI, an Italian oil harvesting firm with a terrible environmental and social record in Africa, became 40% joint partners with Sasol to begin oil and gas prospecting in the ER236 region of the marine off-shore area. The permit, granted for an initial period of three years, covers an area of 82,117km2, extending from beyond St. Lucia in the North to past Port Shepstone in the South. The area shoulders dangerously close to the world heritage site that is the ISimangiliso Wetland Park as well as other ecologically sensitive sites such as the Richards bay Marine Protected Area, SANBI sourced vulnerable pelagic zones and three Ramsar sites.