Forum to benefit Xstrata communities

Monday, April 4, 2011
Eric Mashaba

Burgersfort - A newly formed community forum will hold its first meeting on Tuesday following an agreement between Platinum mining company Xstrata and protesting communities in Limpopo.

The forum was formed in response to community protests in which a total of 73 protestors from the Tubatse area outside Burgersfort were arrested in connection with setting alight two cars.

The arrests took place last week after community members from four villages around Steelpoort went on the rampage and blockaded the main road between Stofberg and Burgersfort with burning tyres and stones, demanding jobs at the Xstrata platinum mine.

Corporate affairs manager at Xstrata, Songezo Zibi, said a small technical team representing the community forum was formed at a meeting held with the community from the four villages, the Limpopo government, traditional leaders and a delegation from the Department of Mineral Resources on Friday.

"Xstrata has agreed to form a community forum which would meet monthly to discuss all issues of employment, training, small business development and community development," said Zibi. "The two provincial departments agreed to conduct a voluntary training and employee audit to ascertain that the majority of beneficiaries really do come from local communities."

He said a small technical team was formed to represent the forum. The team will hold its first meeting on Tuesday.

"The community agreed to stop all protests and allow the project to continue as normal so that it is not unduly delayed and use this forum to communicate concerns," he said.

Zibi thanked the Limpopo provincial government for playing a significant role in organising the meeting, facilitating and managing the various interests to ensure a great outcome.

He said the Mineral Resources Department also contributed towards clarifying government policy issues that the community needed to understand and it would continue to be part of ongoing consultations.

Mohale Ramatseba, the provincial police spokesperson, said that a total of 73 people had been arrested since the protests broke out on Wednesday.

The protestors were not asked to plead to charges of public violence, malicious damage to property and arson when they appeared in the Sekhukhune magistrate's court on Monday. They were released on a warning and their case was postponed to May 20 for further police investigation.

Ramatseba said three more protestors were arrested on Monday morning and are expected to appear in the Sekhukhune magistrate's court on Tuesday to face the same charges. - BuaNews