One day after the commemoration of the bloody Sharpeville Massacre on 21 March 2016, the life of a key human rights defender, Mr Sikhosiphi Bazooka Rhadebe, Chairperson of the Amadiba Crisis Committee on the Eastern Cape's Wild Coast was taken by the hands of two gunmen posing as police officers who knocked on the door of his rural home in the early evening.
Mr Rhadebe has led the committee in its sustained efforts to resist the exploitation of the unique Xolobeni red sand dunes by an Australian mining company for the titanium they contain. The mining would be open cast and would devastate an environment where eco-tourism has been identified by local residents as a more sustainable and inclusive development trajectory for their community.
The killing of Mr Rhadebe took place just 90 minutes after he had checked on the safety of a colleague on the Crisis Committee, knowing that both their names appeared on a hit list. Mr Rhadebe was shot eight times including in the head when he opened the front door of his house in Lurholweni township at Mbizana. Khulumani condemns this murder as a heinous crime to “eliminate” a courageous human rights defender.
The Amadiba Crisis Committee has led a courageous and difficult struggle to protect the environment in which they live from the predation of this mining company which has a track record of dodgy deals supported by the buying of support from some members of the community. The Committee has also had to withstand the state's actions in previously issuing a mining licence to the company in defiance of the wishes of the organised local community.
The Amadiba community has demonstrated extraordinary capacities for participatory and non-violent democratic practice and adherence to the rule of law despite the dirty tactics of the parties looking to exploit the community's natural resources for private profit.
The Amadiba Crisis Committee participated in the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable workshop held from 20 to 22 July 2015 and co-hosted by Khulumani Support group, the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria and the South African Human Rights Commission.
Earlier this month, an objection was filed by the Legal Resources Centre with Mr Richard Spoor on behalf of the Umgungundlovu Inkosana’s Council, the Amadiba Crisis Committee and affected community members, to a further mining right application of the Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources to mine in the area. The community had managed to overturn a previous awarding by the Department of Mineral Resources of a mining licence to this company, on the basis of evidence of fraud in that application.
Khulumani condemns the continuing harassment of the Xolobeni community and calls on the state to identify and arrest the perpetrators of the murder of Mr Rhdebe in a situation where the lives and safety of local community activists are under threat.
Contributions to the community can be made by deposit into their bank account, using as the reference: Bazooka Cause.
- Bank: First National Bank, Randburg
- Bank Code: 254005
- Name of Account: Sustain the Wild Coast
- Account Number: 62157997639
Related article in the Daily Maverick: http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2016-03-24-goodbye-bazooka-wild-coast-anti-mining-activist-killed/