On Wednesday, Kumba Iron Ore demolished a hostel in the mining town of Dingleton in the Northern Cape where a handful of families have been resisting attempts to move them.
A short video tweeted by Richard Spoor, an attorney representing most of the residents, shows a bulldozer partially destroying the hostel.
Kumba has been trying to move the Dingleton families in order to expand its mining operations at Sishen, which is one of the largest open pit mining operations in the world. Most have moved to neighbouring Kathu or Siyathemba but for more than two years, 25 families have refused to move.
Kathu, home to over 11,500 people, relies on Sishen for its existence.
According to Spoor, a family of two were still occupying the hostel in Dingleton when it was demolished, although they were not home at the time of the demolition.
“Kumba and its agents are endlessly badgering and pressuring them to leave,” said Spoor.
He said Kumba had refused to meet the demands of the families for secure alternative accommodation. Kumba had offered rental flats but Spoor said these were of “poor quality” and the environment was “unsafe for children”.
A mediation process with Kumba has been going on for a year but the demolitions proceeded regardless.
A Kumba spokesperson confirmed that “an unoccupied hostel” had been demolished.
“The demolition of unoccupied buildings is part of a normal process with any relocation. Kumba acquired the necessary approval from the local Gamagara Municipality to demolish the buildings which are at the legal limit of 20 meters away from the occupied houses.”
“Kumba is conducting the demolition responsibly and taking the necessary safety precautions on site. This includes the inspection of the properties to ensure they are unoccupied, setting a safety cordon, trained staff operating the equipment and removal of asbestos if found in the buildings.”
The spokesperson said the resettlement project had been underway for about ten years and there had been “an extensive consultation process with individual homeowners and the community”.
“Last week, the last remaining tenants, who had been illegally occupying the Kumba owned hostel building, were moved to the Communal Rental Unit in Siyathemba. These are flats which were purpose built by Kumba to house people previously ‘renting’ in Dingleton.”
“For several months Kumba staff and contractors have been systematically demolishing unoccupied and un-serviced Kumba-owned buildings in Dingleton that pose a health and safety risk,” the spokesperson said.
Republished from GroundUp. Read the original article here.