Residents in Pumula are considering taking up legal action against a Chinese mining company, Haulin Investments to stop them from setting up a quarry plant in the residential suburb. Hualin Investments is intending to conduct quarry mining behind a secondary school in the area but a majority of residents are against the venture, claiming Chinese operations are usually environmentally dangerous.
The residents’ proposed legal route comes despite the local authority and the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) giving the project the nod. The discussion took place in one of the residents’ WhatsApp social media groups called Pumula Leadership Accountability, where the suggestion to seek legal advice was well noted and those with legal contacts or knowledge were asked to assist in that regard.
In their WhatsApp group, residents emphasised the issue required engaging with their Member of Parliament and other lobbyists to take it up with Parliament while they also queried how the Mines Act gave too much powers to prospective miners. To make sure the matter received constant attention, the residents agreed that their residents’ association must keep an eye on the matter and take it up on other platforms
Concerned residents who spoke to CITE confirmed they were planning to engage lawyers and see how best they could stop the Chinese from mining in a residential area, as that had negative effects. “We are not happy with what the Chinese are planning to do in, mine in a residential area close to the school. We know the land would be degraded, there would be dust whose effects would appear some years after the Chinese have left with the money,” said John Nyasini.
“We know deep down they are not here to help us the community but overall they are definitely here to make money and they would leave us to suffer in the end, so we are planning even as residents to take legal action.”
Nyasini noted the suburb had peri-urban residents who kept livestock and did subsistence farming, which would be affected by the mining venture. “The mine will affect their pasture and fields and negatively impact their food stability,” he indicated.
Another resident, Patrick Ndlovu, added they wanted to approach the High Court to stop the proposed mining. “We will engage with lawyers to help us because there was not enough consultation with the residents. We are also not happy that the residents were not given the EMA Environmental Impact Assessment report for them to engage experts on the impact of the quarry mine,” he said.
Another resident, Peter Ndhlovu concurred that the mining operation was a “sad story indeed,” as transparency seemed to be lacking. “Those few who were invited to the meeting do not represent the whole of Pumula. Secondly, it’s not wise for the residents to accept the mining, as it will benefit those who support the idea. Thirdly the surrounding areas will bear the brunt of living with dust while blasting might affect the houses at the end of the day,” he said.
Ndhlovu claimed it was possible that no one would compensate those residents who would be affected. “We have heard of how they (Chinese) operate in some areas. Promises aren’t fulfilled and finally, proper procedures must be done, probably for the whole community to know what will be done should the quarry mining start,” the resident said.
“This calls for proper meetings, not these half baked meetings for the forefront runner. The old adage of hiding things from other people must be stopped. We must stop teaching the young generation bad habits. Transparency is important for such big issues. Pumula must benefit in all aspects. Government must empower us, not the Chinese who will come and go with everything. ”
Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology