This article was originally published on The Daily Vox.
The killing of Amadiba Crisis Committee chairperson, Sikhosiphi Bazooka Rhadebe has placed an Australian mining company and a longstanding mining conflict in the limelight. STUART LEWIS reports that the conflict has a long, violent history and a number of unsavoury players.
On the night of 22 March, Sikhosiphi Bazooka Rhadebe opened his front door for two men who claimed to be police officers. The men had arrived in a white VW Polo with a blue rotating light on its roof. They shot Rhadebe at least eight times in front of his wife and son, who are both now in hospital, before driving away.
The assassination of Rhadebe has garnered national media attention, especially since he was the chairperson of the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC). ACC has been embroiled in a longstanding battle with Mineral Commodities Ltd (MRC), an Australian mining company, over MRC’s ongoing attempts to mine sections of coastal dunes in the Xolobeni area along the Eastern Cape coast.
The battle has divided the local amaPondo community harshly. On one side stand those who want to see the mine built, led largely by a local man called Zamile Qunya who works for mining empowerment company Xolco and Chief Lunga Baleni of the Amadiba Tribal Authority. On the other are those who want the land to stay in local hands, like the ACC. It has also seen increasingly escalating incidents of violence and intimidation, generally directed towards mining opponents.
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