25 April 2019

South Africa: Mining Company Threatens to 'SLAPP' Green Activists Over Facebook Posts

analysis

Environmental activists and their lawyers opposed to mining in ecologically sensitive areas are allegedly being subjected to 'lawfare' by lawyers for the mining companies. They are being sued for defamation for posts on Facebook, and other comments made about the mining operations.

A Johannesburg coal mining company has threatened to drag an environmental watchdog group to the High Court and sue it for defamation and financial damages, sparking concern around an apparent increase in the use of corporate "Slapp" suits to intimidate critics of mining ventures.

The term "Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation" (Slapp) suit was coined in the United States in the 1980s to describe legal bullying tactics by corporations and governments to silence civic activists by threatening them with hefty damages claims and protracted "lawfare".

Three South African environmental attorneys and several activists are currently facing damages claims of at least R3.75 million following allegations that they "defamed" an Australian mining company at the centre of controversy for its planned dune mining operations at Xolobeni on the Wild Coast, and at its existing Tormin mine on the West Coast.

Now the Tendele Coal Mining Company - a subsidiary of the Bryanston-based Petmin group - has sent a legal...

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