18 May 2016
On Tuesday 22 March, anti-mining activist Sikhosiphi ‘Bazooka’ Radebe from Mdatya village in Amadiba, Eastern Cape, South Africa was assassinated by unknown assailants at his home, in front of his small child. He died on the scene after reportedly being shot eight times.
Radebe was the Chairperson of the Amadiba Crisis Committee which has been resisting proposed mineral sands mining at Xolobeni on the Wild Coast by a subsidiary of Australian mining company Mineral Commodities Limited (MRC). There has been a long and well-documented history of conflict around the proposed development with the concerns of affected people not being addressed. There is growing international concern that violence in this area is intensifying and is allegedly targeted at individuals who are campaigning against the Xolobeni mine proposal.
Following the funeral of Sikhosiphi ‘Bazooka’ Radebe on the 2nd of April there were reports of more violence and intimidation against people at the funeral including two journalists from The Citizen.
A joint statement by South African public health, human rights and environmental non-governmental organisations has demanded an immediate investigation of this crime, protection of other Amadiba Crisis Committee activists from attacks, and urgent investigation into allegations of intimidation.
Mining was initially awarded in 2008 but suspended four months later and withdrawn in 2011 after residents lodged an appeal. A new application for a mining right was filed on 3 March 2015. If the project goes ahead an estimated 200 households would be displaced. The community’s opposition has been consistent and has included legal action. Members of the Umgungundlovu community have approached the High Court interdicting the Minister of Mineral Resources from awarding any mining rights until copies of the application have been made available to the community for consultation.
Incidents such as this speak to the need for an Australian system for monitoring and enforcing human rights standards in the operations of Australian companies overseas. Globally there is an alarming rise in violence against human right and environmental defenders, Australian companies operating overseas need to ensure they are not complicit in, or benefiting from, such violence.
Last month the Australian Government made a commitment before the UN Human Rights Council to conduct a consultation on the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. As this case illustrates, it is vital that the consultation includes a focus on the monitoring and accountability mechanisms that apply to Australian companies’ overseas operations.
We the undersigned Australian environmental and human rights organisations condemn the assassination of Sikhosiphi ‘Bazooka’ Radebe. We raise the concern of the growing human rights impacts and violations surrounding Australian companies operating in Africa and overseas, especially in the extractive sector.
We call on Mineral Commodities Limited to:
- Suspend and withdraw the Xolobeni mine proposal on the grounds that there is clear conflict within the community and evidence of lack free, prior and informed consent from the people of the Amadiba region;
- Take an active and transparent role in immediately ending the violence and intimidation against the community opposed to the proposed Xolobeni mine;
- Support all efforts to secure justice for the assassination of Sikhosiphi ‘Bazooka’ Radebe; and
- Establish an exit strategy for both MRC and TEM from the Xolobeni mine proposal on Amadiba ancestral lands.
We call on the Australian government to:
- Ensure that the consultation on the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights the government has committed to includes a focus on the monitoring and accountability mechanisms that apply to Australian companies’ overseas operations;
- Establish and/or strengthen systems for monitoring and enforcing human rights standards in the operations of Australian companies overseas and holding them accountable, including:
- Accessible and responsible forums where communities can bring allegations of abuses and complaints, in particular through the Australian National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises; and
- b. Enacting extraterritorial legislation to hold Australian companies to account for human rights and environmental violations overseas.
Anti Nuclear Alliance of WA
Australian Conservation Foundation
Australian Earth Law Alliance
Australian Religious Response to Climate Change
Australian Student Environment Network
Centre for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy, NSW Chapter
Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (Mining & Energy Division)
Conservation Council of Western Australia
Economists at Large
Environmental Defender’s Office South Australia
Friends of the Earth Australia
Greenpeace Australia Pacific
Human Rights Law Centre
Mineral Policy Institute
People for Nuclear Disarmament
SJ Around the Bay
The Wilderness Society Australia
The Wilderness Society Western Australia
Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA
Uniting Church Western Australia
West Australian Student Environment Network