To: All Media Editors, Journalists and News Outlets
RE: We call on Parliament to urgently fast tract the investigations into the Jagersfontein disaster and fast track a MPRDA amendment process and to prioritise the other recommendations made in their report to parliament.
Exactly one year after the community of Jagersfontein was overwhelmed by a wall of toxic mining waste which left their lives in ruins, the Portfolio Committee of Mineral Resources and Energy has yet to live up to its own recommendations.
In a typical show of political fanfare, designed to deceive and confuse the general public and the community of Jagersfontein, the Portfolio Committee of Mineral Resources and Energy undertook a visit to Jagersfontein after the disaster had devastated the lives of an entire community.
In its report to Parliament, the Portfolio Committee had recommended that “The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) URGENTLY reviews the MPRDA (Minerals Petroleum Resources Development Act) in order to include the regulation of tailings dam/mine dumps.”
One year later and the Portfolio Committee and the DMRE have still not moved this process forward and they have still not provided the community of Jagersfontein and the nation at large with a clear pathway of how it will be dealing with an outdated MPRDA which allows mining companies to play with lives of communities who are affected by their mining operations.
If anything, the DMRE and the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy has been the main protectors of predatory mining companies who have been making billions, if not trillions of rands off the suffering and lives of marginalised and affected communities.
Since 2019, MACUA has been calling on the DMRE and the Portfolio Committee to amend the MPRDA to ensure that mining companies are held to account for the dangers that they have exposed communities to and yet the DMRE and the Portfolio Committee have steadfastly refused to start the process and thus they must be held liable and accountable for the ongoing deaths and destruction visited upon affected communities under their watch.
We call on Parliament to urgently fast tract a MPRDA amendment process and to prioritise the other recommendations made in their report to parliament. We remind the Portfolio Committee that they have failed to deliver on any of their recommendations, namely:
• A full investigation of the cause of the incident, including investigations on the Directors of the company be conducted.
• The Department of Water and Sanitation to explain and make available the compliance report that it supposedly issued when it declared the dam safe in 2021.
• The following Departments amongst others engage with the Jagersfontein Community: Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Health, Social Development, Employment and Labour and Home Affairs.
• The company (owners of the tailing dam) should take full responsibility in ensuring the restoration of the area.
• The Committee, within six months’ time, do a follow up visit, to assess progress on reconstruction.
• A broader investigation by the Department of Water and Sanitation, in collaboration with other relevant departments/entities, on the status of tailing dams in South Africa should be conducted, and report findings to the National Assembly as a matter of urgency.
• The Department of Social Development should ensure that it provides urgent psychological support to the affected communities.
• Government should conduct an investigation on the impact of the incident beyond Jagersfontein.
• The DMRE to conduct investigation on possible illegal mining happening around the processing facility.
• A joint meeting be held with Mintek and the Council for Geoscience to brief the Committee/s on the problems of tailings dam generally.
• The Department of Water and Sanitation should account on the closure and the reopening of the dam.
• Informed by the court judgement, the DMRE table a legislation to Parliament that would address tailings dam.
• The Committee or Parliament must do everything possible to protect those who give evidence to it, in order for it to execute its mandate effectively.
For More Information contact: Gilbert Moela