JOHANNESBURG – Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) will compensate two communities in Limpopo by R55-million - 19 years after they were displaced to make way for the Mogalakwena Platinum Mine.
Members of the Ga-Pila community were initially paid R6 000 per family in compensation to be relocated. They maintain the compensation was way below the value of the land they used to farm in Sandsloot, where they had lived for generations.
On Friday, the global mining company said it recently processed payment to community development trust funds. “On [the] Ga-Pila relocation, Anglo American Platinum has recently processed payments of community development trust funds totalling R55-million to [the] Ga-Puka and Ga-Sekhaolelo development trusts as part of the company’s relocation agreement with the communities,” Anglo American media manager Mpumi Sithole said.
The Ga-Pila community has had a long-running dispute with Anglo Platinum stemming from negotiations in 1991, which resulted in a dissatisfactory relocation site and relocation packages for the community. Attempts to prevent relocation to the chosen Sterkwater site in 2001 resulted in violent clashes which led to the injury of the Ga-Pila Association director and other community members. The relocation was postponed, but commenced later in the year and was completed in 2013.
As a result of this dispute, protest action took place on June 4, 2018 when Ga-Pila Sterkwater community residents gathered at the Mogalakwena mine in a peaceful sit-in at the gates. Nine community members were arrested when the mining company accused them of trespassing and called police, who later arrested them for public violence.
Anglo Platinum said it had to ensure the safety of employees and visitors to the Mogalakwena complex and management had asked police to restore order in the area.
“The Ga-Pila community protest in June 2018 was illegal [not approved by the relevant municipal authority]. The community members started fires in the mining premises and distracted movement of traffic and in some instances threw objects,” Sithole said.
The nine arrested community members included Ntsepi Ndweleli, Senyati Mosibudi Ellias, Tsotetsi John, Magabudi Mpe, Phillips Seemo, Sinky Thema, and Ntsobe Claas Lekgatsi, who are receiving legal assistance from the Freedom of Expression Institute. They will again appear in court on December 3 on charges related to the protest.
Explaining progress made regarding the disputed compensation, Sithole said, "Anglo American Platinum has recently processed payments of community development trust funds totalling R55 million to [the] Ga-Puka, and Ga-Sekhaolelo development trusts as part of the company’s relocation agreement with the communities".
"The Ga-Pila Community Development Trust is working on meeting administrative requirements [and] their funds will be released once these are concluded,” she said.