The war continues between those who want opencast mining along the Eastern Cape's Wild Coast and those who oppose it, with two new incidents taking place in the last weeks of 2015.
At the first incident in the early hours of Sunday 20 December, shots were fired from a car towards the house of the Head Woman of the coastal Amadiba community, Mrs Baleni. The second shooting took place at about 1.00 a.m, Monday 21 December. A group of men were then observed searching for the Head Woman at her homestead as well at her birth place 800m away. They went into the hastily evacuated houses and then fired two shots in the air, obviously in an effort to chase people out from where they were hiding. Already on Friday 18 December, a man with a binocular asked for the location of Head Woman’s house and waited by her house until dusk.
Following a six-hour mass meeting on Monday, police from the Mzamba police station were called in the evening to interrogate one suspect. During the meeting, he had admitted to takingpart in the shooting that took place on 3 May at Xolobeni together with Zamile Qunya and the Amadiba chief, Lunga Baleni, when they tried to force through a blockade in Xolobeni.
The aim of the weekend attacks appears to be to murder Mrs Baleni or to drive her and her children away from the Amadiba community. She is loved by all for supporting the coastal villages in their struggle against the Australian mining company MRC and its employee Mr Zamile Qunya. MRC has for 10 years been pushing for opencast mining along a 22km long stretch of the pristine beaches on the Wild Coast. Its daughter company MSR has recently become known in media for unlawful mining activities at the Tormin mine, north of Cape Town.
The weekend attacks follow chief Lunga’s failed second attempt to close the coastal Traditional Authority of Umgungundlovu, established 70 years ago by his grandfather. Lunga has demanded that the Head Woman gives up the official stamp of the traditional court. In the beginning of December, the community responded by sending a delegation of 40 community leaders and women in support of Mrs Baleni. They demanded an explanation and a meeting with the whole local royal family. This was denied.
Chief Lunga Baleni and his wife are directors of “Xolco”, MRC’s BEE partner in the “Xolobeni mining project”. He is driving a 4x4 awarded to him by MRC. He is a fallen chief. At a Traditional Authority meeting on 20 October, 287 land rights holders told the mining consultant Piet Badenhorst and his hired experts that no “Environmental Impact Assessment” (EIA) would be allowed.
The community is resolved to protect the Head Woman of the coastal Traditional Authority: “She has no enemies beside the Australians, chief Lunga and Mr Qunya who want to sell our land”.