Sikhosiphi ‘Bazooka’ Rhadebe. Photo: John Clarke

Sikhosiphi ‘Bazooka’ Rhadebe. Photo: John Clarke

Mining community activist murdered on South Africa’s Wild Coast

30.03.2016

IndustriALL is outraged by the murder of Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe, a community activist fighting the development of the Xolobeni mine.

Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe, chairperson of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, was murdered outside his home on 22 March 2016, by men claiming to be police officers.
 
Rhadebe, nicknamed “Bazooka”, was a prominent opponent of the proposed Xolobeni mine, in the pristine Wild Coast region of South Africa’s Eastern Cape province.
 
Two men claiming to be police officers arrived at Rhadebe’s house in a car with a blue flashing light. They claimed he was under arrest, but when he went outside to their car, he was shot eight times in front of his family.
 
Earlier the same evening, Rhadebe phoned other community activists to warn them that they were in danger, as he had seen their names on a list of activists opposing the mine.
 
The proposed titanium mine is a project by Transworld, a wholly owned subsidiary of Australian corporation Mineral Commodities. The mine is being developed in partnership with a local company, the Xolobeni Empowerment Company.
 
The development has met fierce resistance from the local community. It is being built on ancestral land which the community uses for subsistence. The community formed the Amadiba Crisis Committee in 2007, and recently filed a legal objection to the mining.
 
The murder follows ten years of smouldering conflict, with community activists refusing the company access to the land, and incidents of violence and intimidation against community members. The Amadiba Crisis Committee accuses Mineral Commodities and its local partners and allies of using violence to intimidate the community into accepting the mine.
 
Mineral Commodities denies involvement and said in a statement that it “condemns violence”. However, executive director Mark Caruso had previously threatened to “rain down vengeance” on opponents of another mine being developed by the company in South Africa.
 
IndustriALL mining director Glen Mpufane said:

“The murder of “Bazooka” Rhadebe at the operations of Mineral Commodities on the Wild Coast comes as no surprise to those who have been following the ongoing conflict in the Xolobeni community.
 
“It fits the pattern of a global mining industry intent on profit and plunder at any cost. Our experience shows that shadowy paramilitary forces often target community and trade union activists, and we are outraged that this has happened at Xolobeni.
 
“IndustriALL believes that sustainable mining requires trade union and community involvement. We condemn Mineral Commodities for failing to respect the Australian code of conduct for multinational companies, and we demand accountability.”