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SarWatch Writer
Justice for the brutal killing of Fikile Ntshangase.

The Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) is deeply saddened and angered by the killing of environmental activist Fikile Ntshangase, affectionately known as Mam’Ntshangase. Fikile Ntshangase was assassinated on 22 October 2020 at her home near Mtubatuba in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. At the time of her passing, she was involved in an ongoing legal dispute over the extension of an opencast coal mine operated by Tendele Coal near Somkhele, close to Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park. She was hailed as a courageous human rights defender by her community for standing against the Tendele Coal Mine expansion in violation of the right to a safe environment.

The murder of Fikile Ntshangase is a cause of concern to the work of human rights defenders in South Africa and in the SADC region. Governments are failing in their international obligations to the Declaration of Human Rights by not protecting and supporting human rights defenders in the context of their work. In Southern Africa, people who live near mines continue to face threats of violence and intimidation from mining companies who blatantly disregard their socio-economic, land, and environmental rights. Human rights defenders continue to be threatened and killed for standing up against powerful mining companies that violate human rights, often with impunity and tacit support from governments. This is why many mining communities throughout the region are now taking a stand and demanding a new order, insisting on extractive projects that secure a beneficial win-win relationship, free and prior informed consent in involuntary displacements, and community engagement in all stages of the mining cycle for inter-generational sustainable livelihoods.

SARW adds its voice in the demand for justice for the brutal killing of Fikile and other activists in the SADC region, and pleads with state authorities to prioritise the safety of human rights defenders. The murder of Fikile Ntshangase (and others) occurred where people are fighting for environmental justice, against the state and mining interests. We must confront the state and mining companies about their role in these communities. We will continue to demand justice for Fikile and for all mining communities.
We further reaffirm our solidarity with mining communities and human rights defenders.
For enquiries, contact: Martin Mosweu on MartinM@sarwatch.org

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