Kirsten Youens was awarded third place in the category of outstanding human rights activist, social justice activist, and pro bono woman lawyer at the Woza Africa Awards recently.
WOZA AWARDS are annually presented to women lawyers in Africa in recognition of their outstanding dedication, achievements and contribution to the profession, whether it be services, legal education, human rights or the pro bono sector.
More good news is the rallying of the social justice sector in support of ALL RISE against spurious attacks made against us by the respondents in the Tendele review case. In an extraordinary show of public solidarity, 38 civil society organisations supported a call on the National Union of Mineworkers, Mpukunyoni Traditional Authority, Mpukunyoni Community Mining Forum, and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union and their representative attorney, Dennis Sibuyi, to:
– Respect the 4 May Pretoria High Court ruling that Tendele Coal Mining’s 2013 application for a mining right (to expand its Somkhele operations) failed to comply with the law and that the decision of officials in the Dept. of Minerals and Energy to award that right was invalid;
– Respect the right of the Mpukunyoni people to assert their constitutional rights without fear of reprisal; and
– Respect the right of ALL RISE to act without fear of harassment, intimidation and defamation.
The 38 organisations’ letter follows a 17 May 2022 statement titled “Mpukunyoni Community calls on All Rise and their funders to account to the community for their efforts to close Tendele Mine”, which attacks All Rise, demanding to know the source of its funding, accusing it of wanting to close the mine and stating that All Rise’s actions are “tantamount to a gross human rights violation”.
All Rise is genuinely humbled by the support and thanks every single organisation that signed this letter. An attack on one is an attack on all.
In more sombre news, the applications for coal mining or prospecting around the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park are increasing. These include:
- Prospecting activities proposed by Imvukuzane in the Fuleni Reserve.
- The current and future mining operations of ZAC located northwest and west of Imvukuzane’s proposed prospecting area, and which fall in the five traditional authority areas of Zungu, Matheni, Mlaba, Mandlakazi and Ximba; the iMfolozi catchment; and on the northern and western boundaries of the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park.
- The current and future Somkhele mining operations of Tendele Coal Mining (Pty) Ltd in the Mpukunyoni Traditional Authority area and the iMfolozi and other catchments; and on the eastern boundary of the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, and immediately north of the Imvukuzane prospecting area.
- The other current prospecting applications by Yengo Resources (Pty) Ltd) in the Ximba Traditional Authority area on the southwestern boundaries of the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park; by Tendele Coal Mining (Pty) Ltd in the Mpukunyoni Traditional authority on the eastern boundaries of the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park and by Raycom Resources Pty Ltd, southwest of the Imvukuzane prosecting area and the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park.
- The previous prospecting activities already conducted by ZAC in the same area that Yengo is now proposing to prospect; by Ibutho Legacy (Pty) Ltd in the same prospecting area that Imvukuzane is now proposing to prospect; and by Tendele in the same area for which it is again applying for a prospecting right.
- The mining rights held by Mbila Resources (Pty) Ltd for the Msebe Opencast Anthracite Mine and Mbila Underground Mine both east of Nongoma, also in the Zululand District Municipal area.
The communities who live in these areas are our clients as members of the community organisation we represent, MCEJO. Currently, we are working with the Fuleni community, representing them and other organisations in opposing the prospecting application over their land.
We continue to represent the Somkhele MCEJO community in many aspects. As Tendele has begun a new Scoping and EIA process (as per the requirements of the May judgment) in the three villages it plans to mine, one of our key focus areas is assisting our community and NPO clients in participating in this process. There is also an appeal against the granting of Tendele’s water use licence waiting for a hearing with the Water Tribunal.
Yet another unfortunate decision by government on 8 July 2022 was the rejection of several appeals to the Environmental Authorisation allowing for the clearing of 8000 hectares of indigenous bush for the Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone ‘mega city’ project in Limpopo. The rejection of the appeals, collated by a loose coalition of social movements and interested and affected parties, including those involved with activist research and support for people in Limpopo, has been met with the coalition’s profound disillusionment as to the agency’s endorsement of the flawed EIA process. All Rise submitted an appeal in collaboration with CALS that detailed the flaws of the EIA process and the project as a whole. We are now discussing collaborating with the coalition to take this decision on review.
Ending on a good note, All Rise continues to provide workshops to communities on the EIA regulations and how to meaningfully participate in the EIA processes. In the next month or two, we are also rolling out some workshops on climate justice and look forward to sharing that with you.
During Women’s Month, we will introduce you to each member of our amazing all-women board of directors, so keep an eye on our social media platforms.
We wish you a happy August!
Kirsten, Janice and Lihle
**As a non-profit clinic, we need funding to do our work. If you would like to support us, we would be very grateful! Head to this link to donate: https://allrise.org.za/donations/