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“I hate this in my life”: A short film on how coal mining in Mpumalanga is affecting local communities

8 February 2012 at 7:08 pm

Watch the first in a series of four short films on some of the cases undertaken by the Centre for Environmental Rights and Lawyers for Human Rights through their joint mining project. “I hate this in my life” features farmer Samson Sibande, and the Wessleton community near Ermelo in Mpumalanga.

In 2008 Samson Sibande bought a farm near Belfast, Mpumalanga. On the land was a small coal mine, abandoned by Cousins Coal without rehabilitation.

Samson has been trying to get the information he needs to force Counsins Coal to come and rehabilitate the damage left by the mine, including large pits of polluted water. To date, Samson has been unable to obtain copies of any environmental management plans or financial provision information from the Department of Mineral Resources.

Despite failing to rehabilitate the mine as required by law, Cousins Coal returned in 2012 and is attempting to obtain a new prospecting right on Samson’s farm.

But what is happening on Samson’s farm is happening all over Mpumalanga. The community of Wessleton outside Ermelo has seen their entire surroundings transformed by numerous coal mines, directly adjacent to the community’s houses.

It took the Wessleton community more than a year and a court order just to get hold of the permits granted to the mines from the Department of Mineral Resources.

At least one of the Wessleton mines has since been closed by the Department of Mineral Resources. Like the mine on Samson’s farm, this mine has not been rehabilitated. This is a common and prominent problem in many of the mines surrounding Ermelo.

This film was commissioned by the CER and Lawyers for Human Rights, produced by Green Renaissance and funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund.