Hawks probe anti-mining activist’s murder

Sikhosiphi ‘Bazooka’ Rhadebe, slain leader of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, a group of activists fighting mining
activity on the Wild Coast, with some residents. Picture: John Clarke

Sikhosiphi ‘Bazooka’ Rhadebe, slain leader of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, a group of activists fighting mining activity on the Wild Coast, with some residents. Picture: John Clarke

Eastern Cape titanium deal marked with death since Oz firm sought rights – activist was shot 8 times by thugs masquerading as cops.

The Hawks will investigate a case of murder opened by the Eastern Cape police following the death of an anti-mining activist.

The man was shot eight times after being lured into a car by two men posing as cops.

Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) leader Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe was shot outside his home last week, near Mbizana on the Eastern Cape’s Wild Coast.

This was after he had warned his community a week earlier of a hit list targeting those who opposed a lucrative mining operation by Australian-owned mining company Mineral Commodities Limited (MCR).

Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi told The Citizen a murder docket was opened by Eastern Cape police last week, but was relegated to the Hawks this past weekend. Neither he, nor regional police spokesperson Lieutenant Khaya Tonjeni would confirm if the suspects had been identified.

No arrests have yet been made. A decade-long struggle between communities along the Wild Coast and MCR has been marked with violence and death since the company sought rights to mine titanium off the mineral-rich coast.

A South African subsidiary of the company, Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources (Tem), had planned to drill for underground water this February.

Fellow anti-mining activist Nontle Mbuthuma said the ACC would continue fighting the company’s bid to mine the coast.

“At the moment, the struggle continues,” said Mbuthuma.

“Just because someone was killed doesn’t mean that we are defeated.”

When the day came for the Australian company to start drilling, more than 200 residents occupied the area, saying they were willing to die to protect their land.

Mbuthuma said the activists had no plans to further engage with Tem outside court.

“There is no discussion. As we explained we are not interested in negotiating with those people. If they do try again to continue with the mining, that will mean more bloodshed and they don’t want that.”

Communities in Pondoland’s Wild Coast have resisted attempts to access its titanium-rich Xolobeni coastal dunes, saying it would destroy the land and would not benefit their community.

But traditional leaders such as Prince Mzwandile Maraqana have been in support of the venture, saying the poor stood to benefit from it.

Rhadebe’s funeral will be held on Saturday.

– simnikiweh@citizen.co.za

 

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