11 December 2018

South Africa: Activists Around the World Demand President Ramaphosa Protects Rural Community From Mining Interests

Photo: Amnesty International
Amadiba Crisis Committee leader, Nonhle Mbuthuma.
press release

Today (11 December), activists around the world will be calling upon President Ramaphosa to protect the safety of human rights defender Nonhle Mbuthuma and the Amadiba community, who are at risk of attack for their work defending their ancestral land against mining companies.

The Amadiba community, based in Xolobeni on the Eastern Cape of South Africa, has been campaigning for over a decade to stop Australian company Mineral Resource Commodities (MRC) extracting £140 million worth of titanium, zircon and titanium from their ancestral land.

Members of the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC), a community group organised to unite people across five villages to defend their land rights, have been threatened, attacked and even killed for their efforts to protect their land. In March 2016, Amadiba community member Sikhosiphi ‘Bazooka’ Radebe was shot dead by two men claiming to be police officers. Nonhle Mbuthuma, a leader of the ACC, now fears for her life.

On Tuesday, people from around the world – including the UK, Kenya, Australia, Canada and the US – will be staging protests and tweeting President Ramaphosa to put pressure on him to protect Nonhle Mbuthuma and the Indigenous Amadiba community over business and mining interests.

Emily Butler, Amnesty International Campaigns Coordinator, said:

“The South African government must put people before profit and uphold the legal right of indigenous communities to decide the fate of their home.

“We are worried by reports that Nonhle Mbuthuma fears for her safety, simply for standing up for her community.

“Activists across the world will be calling upon President Ramaphosa to protect Nonhle and we hope that he puts human rights before business interests.”

Amnesty activists will gather outside of the South African High Commission in London at 11am (GMT) on Tuesday in support of Nonhle Mbuthuma, and hand in a letter addressed to the High Commissioner, Ms Nomatemba Gugulethu Pudnixia Olivia Tambo.

High Court Ruling

The community recently won a high court ruling which makes clear that the government cannot issue mining licenses without getting consent from indigenous communities, but this is at risk of appeal.

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