02 November 2020 at 6:57 am
On Tuesday, 3 November 2020 at 9:45, the Supreme Court Appeal in Bloemfontein will hear the appeal by the Global Environmental Trust and others against a 2018 judgement of the Pietermaritzburg High Court, in which that court had refused to grant an interdict application brought by the Applicants against Tendele Coal Mining (Pty) Ltd and had ordered public interest litigants to pay the legal costs of the coal mining company.
The court hearing is of particular significance because of the shocking murder of 65 year old Fikile Ntshangase at her home in Somkhele, KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday, 22 October 2020. Mam Ntshangase was a member of the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation (MCEJO), one of the applicants in the appeal, and a vocal activist against the expansion of the anthracite mine near the border of the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve.
The court papers can be accessed here: https://cer.org.za/programmes/mining/litigation/somkhele-anthracite-mine
Parties and their legal representatives:
- Appellants: Global Environment Trust and Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation represented by Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC and Adv Mawande Mazibuko
- Respondents: Tendele Coal Mining (Pty) Ltd represented by Peter Lazarus SC and Adv Nick Ferreira
- Amici Curiae (friends of the court):
- Centre for Environmental Rights, represented by Max DuPlessis SC, Adv Toni Palmer and Adv Sanelisiwe Lushaba
- Mpukunyoni Traditional Council, Mpukunyoni Community Mining Forum, Association of Mine Workers & Construction Union and National Union of Mine Workers, represented by Dennis Sibuyi (attorney)
On 13 February 2020, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) admitted the Centre for Environmental Rights as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the appeal. The CER intervened in the matter because of its concerns that the judgment opened the door for mining companies to operate illegally. The CER is also concerned that the negative costs order against public interest litigants would discourage communities from approaching the courts to defend their constitutional rights through the fear of being debilitated by having to pay the legal costs of industry and the State. This would have a chilling effect on Constitutional litigation.
- Melissa Fourie, CER Executive Director [email protected]
On Tendele Coal Mining Pty Ltd and its anthracite mine at Somkhele, KwaZulu-Natal:
- No Longer A Life Worth Living: Mining-Impacted women speak through participatory action research in the Somkhele and Fuleni communities, northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. A 2017 report by Womin
- South African Human Rights Commission’s 2016 Report on the National Hearing on the Underlying Socio-economic Challenges
of Mining-affected Communities in South Africa
- Of Mining, Ethics and Murder, by activist shareholder group Just Share Executive Director Tracey Davies, published in Financial Mail on 29 October 2020
On activist threats, intimidation and killings:
- “Tendele Coal Mining threatens to sue environmental activists for defamation over Facebook posts”, Business & Human Rights Resources Centre
- “We Know Our Lives Are in Danger”: Environment of Fear in South Africa’s Mining-Affected Communities. A 2019 report by groundWork, Earthjustice, Human Rights Watch and Centre for Environmental Rights
- International NGO Global Witness’s work on violence against land and environmental defenders