Mtubatuba community hopeful of breakthrough in Ntshangase’s killing

Mtubatuba community hopeful of breakthrough in Ntshangase’s killing

The Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation (MCEJO) says police have asked for 48 hours to find suspects in the murder of environmental activist, Fikile Ntshangase.

Local Voices caught up with MCEJO Coordinator Philani Ndimande on Monday evening, during a leadership meeting of organisation.

They said they had just returned from a meeting with the commander of the Ophondweni Police Station where Ntshangase stayed.

“He has asked us to give them 48 hours to find the suspects,” Ndimande revealed. “He had previously said we should give him 72 hours. So this really gives us hope that Mam’Ntshangase’s killers will be found.”

Ndimande says Ntshangase was like a mother to him. Describing losing her as a huge blow for the rural community of Somkhele, near Mtubatuba, in KwaZulu-Natal, he added: “Her death gives us the strength to double our efforts and make her wish come true for her community to be helped through this organisation.”

It is suspected that Ntshangase’s murder was linked to MCEJO’s fight against Tendele Coal Mining’s bid to expand operations in the area.

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has expressed concern that the murder could spark violence.

In a statement, the party says the Mtubatuba community seems divided on the matter.

“We, therefore, urge the leadership and whole community of the area to handle this matter with calm and find a way to balance the mining and environmental activities.”

The party says it will embark on a fact-finding mission to the area next week.

Ntshangase (65) was gunned down in front of his 13-year-old grandson. The child’s mother was not staying with them due to work but she has returned home following the tragedy. Ndimande says they are receiving counselling.

The environmental activist, whom Ndimande has as a leader with exceptional skills, will be laid to rest on Friday in Stanger, in Kwadukuza. Her funeral service will be held at the Maphumulo Lutheran Church. A date her memorial service had not been set at the time of publishing.

There must be nothing about our land and us without us

The uMfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation is embroiled in a bitter legal battle with Tendele Coal Mine.

The mine’s proposed expansion, on the border of Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Park, will require the relocation of more at least 21 families from their ancestral land.

Some activists have allegedly also been intimidated and threatened with death.

Ndimande says their concern is the impact this will have on the environment.

“This place gives us peace. We enjoy the tranquillity of the place and living together with nature. We also plant our own crops; have livestock while we live in harmony with the Big Five.”

Ndimande says government is supporting Tendele’s bid and is pushing for mining in various rural communities. “We have a challenge but we are more than prepared to fight for our rights.”

“Our government is pushing to take the land from us; knowing very well that is totally against the environment we are in. Imagine what mining will do to the Big Five. Our water – we are getting it from Mfolozi River and mining will pollute our water.”

He is urging government to listen to civil society and affected communities.

“We need to government to listen to listen to proposals of civil society who are pushing for a just Mining Charter. As she (Fikile Ntshangase) is not the first one to have been killed – and she is a woman, it feels like people that we trusted with our freedom are taking us back to oppression. To me this is even worse. There must be nothing about our land and us without us!”

News agency, GroundUp, has reported that Tendele CEO Jan du Preez has condemned Ntshangase’s murder and recent incidents of violence and intimidation, which he linked to concerns about the threat of job losses. He is also said to have rejected as blatant lies claims that community members who are supporting the mine’s expansion had been bribed.

Pietermaritzburg hosts both Malema and Buthelezi

Pietermaritzburg hosts both Malema and Buthelezi

Leaders of parties at the opposite end of the political spectrum – the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) – were both on the campaign trail in Pietermaritzburg today, April 17.

The IFP launched its KwaZulu Natal manifesto at the Winston Churchill theatre, with party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi and the party’s candidate for premier, VF Hlabisa.

Buthelezi told the crowd that for the past 10 years the leading party did not govern well. “The capital city of KwaZulu Natal is placed under administration for the second time because they have failed,” said Buthelezi. He concluded by saying there is no need to vote for corruption.

Meanwhile, the EFF’s Julius Malema was at the Pietermaritzburg taxi rank where he addressed a crowd, before moving to the Umngeni Municipality where he led a service delivery march.

Malema told the crown that the demands of the people are genuine, “They want land, water, reliable electricity and jobs.” Malema also claimed that municipal employees had slept their way into jobs. (Umgungundlovu FM – edited by Siya Motha)

EFF leader Julius Malema addresses supporters in Pietermaritzburg
IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi launches his party’s provincial manifesto in Pietermaritzburg
At the IFP manifesto launch in the Churchill Hall, Pietermaritzburg

NADECO blames IEC for not taking part in the May 8 elections

The National Democratic Convention (NADECO) won’t be participating in the May 8 election as it sent its documents to the wrong email address, party leader Siyabonga Sibisi said in an interview with Ladysmith community radio station Nqubeko.

The party, which broke away from the Inkatha Freedom Party several years ago, was shocked to realize that they were not on the list of parties that are registered with the IEC, Sibisi told the station on April 5.

But he blamed the IEC for the mistake. ‘’We went to our local IEC office here in Ladysmith to submit our documents, but we were told that were should contact the national IEC office in Pretoria,’’ Sibisi said. An email to the IEC bounced because they were given the wrong email address by their local IEC office, and they did not realize that the email was not sent.

“We only realized that we are not on the list after realizing that the IEC has invited all registered political parties to come and sign the code of conduct in Durban,” Sibisi added.

The party leader apologized to supporters and said the party would partner with other parties and were currently in talks with the National Freedom Party to this end.

Nadeco leader Siyabonga Sibisi speaks to Nqubeko Community Radio