Today we are gartered here us the Artisanal mine workers, the unemployed communities, Civil Society Organisations and the Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA) to demand the rights, as enshrined in the constitution, to Work in order to place food on our tables.
The blanket ban on artisanal mining that is enacted in the current legislation of the Mining Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA), seems to run directly contrary to the United Nations’ International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, a binding treaty signed by South Africa in 1994 and ratified in 2015, which among other things requires the South African Government to recognize the Right to Work. Article 6 of the treaty states that “[t]he States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right to work, which includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and will take appropriate steps to safeguard this right.”
The African Union’s African Charter on Human and People’s Rights similarly recognizes the right to work
We have being working on the floors of Kimberly for more than 14 years and for all this time we have been harassed by those who claim that the land belongs to them. This harassment was done by the GREEDY companies that come here to take what rightfully belongs to us.
This is done to us by the following greedy companies:
- De Beers
- Supper Stone
- Ekapa Mineral
- Crown Resources.
We call this a fight between the Hungry and the Greedy. These companies are sending their security to come and take our equipment that we are using to mine. We invest this money to buy equipment in order to work where there is no work and we don’t expect anyone to come and summarily take away our livelihoods and our right to work.
The police, who are supposed to protect us are also used to by our government to come and take away our tools. We are looking at the police as our brothers and sisters, not our enemies. But the government is busy making us, its own citizens, enemies.
We are here to display our anger and dissatisfaction at the manner in which the rights of our brothers and sisters have been undermined by those companies under the eyes of both the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and Economic Affairs.
With our little knowledge that we have, it is clear that government say they are on our side but clearly they are against us by providing our names to the GREEDY companies to finish us..
These two departments have being holding meeting with us promising to assist us but to this date we have never receive any help from them.
Mr Mabaso (DMR Kimberly Office) you have being calling us to your office to have meetings with us promising us that you are going to help us to register our companies and also assist us to get the mining rights. Maybe we should remind you that we also have children that we must feed and homes to support and this is the only way for us to make an income.
You requested us to submit the ID copies of all the miners that are working here and this was given to you last year. You have also recently asked us to submit the ones that were not submitted, but till today we have not heard anything form your office.
Instead we have received the interdict that say we must leave the site and break down our shanties. We want to make this clear to you and those companies that this land belongs to us. If we must leave that place where are we going? And who do you want to put on that land? We have discovered those diamonds on our own. As much as we know the companies that are claiming that the land belongs to them, they are not telling the truth.
De Beers was mining underground and that was clearly telling you that they had the rights’ to mine underground not on the surface. We are mining on the floors of the Kimberly not on the wastes or tips of any companies. This is the only way of us to reduce the poverty and unemployment in our society
PLEASE LEAVE US TO DO THAT IN PEACE AS WE HAVE THE RIGTH TO DO THAT. WE ARE THE SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF THIS LAND AND FOR THAT REASON WE DON’T NEED ANYONE TO COME AND TELL US HOW TO DO MINING IN OUR LAND.
We demand the following:
- Mr Maboso to give us in writing a commitment date for his office to finalize our request of registration which he promised to us verbally and which the Minister of Minerals asked him to oversee.
- The Department of Economic Affairs to also confirm in writing as it was agreed in the meeting with DMR that they are also going to work with DMR to help us to register.(letter must come through Mr. Mabaso as he was the one who called the meeting.
- DMR to ask the companies to stop harassing our people now
- The police must also stop abusing our people, because when they get to us they will tell you that they have been sent by the mines or DMR
- That the DMR and the Local Municipality assist with water and toilets at our working sites.
- We want you to write the letter to the above mentioned companies and ask them to stop harassing our people.
- We want everyone who claims that that land belongs to them to give us proof that say that is their land.
- We demand that our right to work, which is protected in our constitution, is confirmed and that government works with us to build our economy rather than work with foreigners who want to make South Africans criminals.
- We demand the right to Work.