The Mourning of Human Rights Day in Bafokeng

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The Bafokeng Land Buyers’ Association hosted a delegation of 40 South Americans as they mourned Human Rights Day here in Rustenburg. Kenya, Chile, Colombia and other countries, including Canada, were represented.

The visit sought to share information and experiences, and celebrate Human Rights day with communities endangered by extractive industries. It so happened that the visit, termed the Learning Route, coincided with the meeting of African Union’s Working Group/Commission on Communities faced with Extractive Industries which took place on Thursday 22nd March in Pretoria.

 Henk Smith, Wilmien Wicomb and Sayi Nindi of the Legal Resources Centre presented the legal challenges that the rural mine-hosting communities are facing. They explained the evolution of the South African legal framework relative to customary law, its inadequacies from its colonial predecessors to the current Constitutional dispensation.

Dr Gavin Capps, an expert on tribal landed property, explained the convolution of the mining complex, the State and the tribal system as it impacted on the Bafokeng communities since the difacane. To guarantee and safeguard foreign ownership and control of land and the platinum mineral reserves in the Bushveld Complex, the two sectors are strategically centralized at the National offices.

 ‘In fact all legislation having a bearing on mining and land ownership are centralized at National offices. This effectively dispossesses communities and Municipalities of all control over their natural and heritage resources, and places such control and ownership into, and to the benefit of the multinational conglomerates and their imperialist nations’, added Monty Huma .

The visitors arrived in Rustenburg to a warm welcome by members of the Bafokeng communities. Phillemon Khunou of Tsitsing, Gash Nape of Thekwana, Mr Makhubalo of the Setuke Family, Buti Mekgwe of Baphiring baLuka, all painted a picture of the hardships they have endured overtime against the colonial/apartheid regimes, who established, promoted and protected the Bafokeng chieftaincy’s illegitimate rule over their villages. They alluded to their loss of land to the boers and the Bafokeng chief Mokgatle from 1869 to 1908.

Following the footsteps of the State’s charade of dispossession, the platinum mining companies have been worse, sophisticated, rampant and brutal.

Michael Mmope, Thulare Mabule and Chris Senne of Chaneng village described how Anglo Platinum and the Bafokeng chief, through their Royal Bafokeng Platinum mine treated the Chaneng land owners. Those whose livelihoods depended on the ploughing and grazing fields had to make way, without compensation, for the mine’s Styldrift project. Migrant mine labour has overcrowded  social amenities in clinics and schools. Crime has escalated and the mines continue to blast cracks in the local building structures.

‘We are faced with the same problems in Chile and Colombia. South African mining companies are starting new projects in our areas and have shown absolutely no respect for our rights’, said the PROCASUR delegates, and representatives Maria Araya and Pilar Alberada.

Land Buyers’ Association, Chaneng Community, Setuke Family, Dr Gavin Capps and the Legal Resources Center were all awarded certificates of appreciation and recognition. In presenting the certificates, the Deputy President of Ford Foundation appreciated the resilience of the poor rural dwellers, and pledged to give support to the communities.

Chris, Jan, March, Tsholofelo, and Phistus  led the slogan song ‘siyaya’ , as they resigned their Human Rights day.

One thought on “The Mourning of Human Rights Day in Bafokeng

    nzxango said:
    01/04/2012 at 6:20 am

    The current world order is obsessed with 'land grabbing'. Whether it be through the puppet chiefs under control of the corporate hegemonies or the corporations themselves.
    We are in a dangerous era where the obsession with resource pillage is causing unprecedented harm as never before seen in human history.
    They are harming our communities, they are harming our earth.
    There is only one way to stop the pillage: COLLECTIVE ACTION
    Whether as a consumer or an activist,we should understand, and boycott the forces that care only for bottom lines and nothing for civil and environmental harmony.


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