Air pollution in the midst of COVID-19

By Velile Khoza

Here in Mfidikoe village, Rustenburg we see communities suffer the consequences of air pollution from tailing dams.

These tailing dams are extremely toxic to the health and environment of the community due to dust from remining activity. When remining activities take place, all the dust flocks into the environment and most of the time the wind blows to the North and North West side of the village. Since there is a well spring just around the corner, the community is exposed to 70 % of dust coming down that they breath in.

The air quality officers of the company Platinum Miles Resources (PMR) should be accountable to the environmental impact assessment guidelines of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) and the Bill of Rights in order for the community to take rightful measures to make this company comply. They are gatekeepers who are keeping the gate shut for communities to have sittings with mine safety officers.

As a human rights defender I approached the Department of Health here in Mfidikoe at a local clinic. When I arrived I asked the relevant official to show me the Tuberculosis (TB) stats of ward 34. Guess what? The stats spoke for themselves. The figures are so shameless.

38 % of the people who are TB patients are from the squatter camp that is situated just under the tailing dam that is being remined by Platinum Miles Resources. This company found the squatter camp there. I wonder how they were granted a mining licence by the Department of Mineral Resources and how the Department of Environmental Affairs approved their environmental plan.

(Photographs of Platinum Mine tailing plant supplied by Velile Khoza)

Velile Khoza is an environmental activist, a secretary of Bua Mining Communities (BuaMC) and a chairman of the community NPO Mfidikwe Bokamoso Community Development Forum (MBCDF).

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