Concerns About Prospecting Intentions in Warrenton

Gerda Moolman, MPL

DA Northern Cape: Spokesperson for Economic Development

The Democratic Alliance is highly concerned about the intentions of Kholisile Diamonds, whose chief member was previously found guilty of fraud, to obtain a diamond prospecting right on 38 properties situated in Ward 5 in the Warrenton area.

Kholisile Diamonds has up until tomorrow, 30 May 2012, to issue all 38 property holders with an Environmental Management Plan. This comes after the 33 property holders including the Magareng municipality, as well as five farmers in the Windsorton area, received notices on 28 March 2012 informing them that Kholisile Diamonds applied for a diamond prospecting right on their property.

The community is up in arms about the prospective mining rights that could be awarded to Kholisile Diamonds. The community fears that the mining will not only flout health regulations pertaining to how close a mining operation may be to a residential area but that it could also threaten to pollute the water source of the Vaal River. In response, DA councillor of ward 5, Pottie Potgieter, convened a meeting of all affected property owners on 4 May 2012. It was jointly decided at the meeting that the property owners would oppose the application and that they will also seek to get the Department of Water Affairs on board, in order for them to evaluate the potential threat to the river.

In the meantime, however, additional concerns regarding the chief member of Kholisile Diamonds, namely Kholisile Knowledge Komanisi, whose signature appears at the bottom of the notification letter, have emerged. It appears that in December 2009, Komanisi was found guilty of tax fraud after defrauding the receiver of revenue of more than R700 000, for which he was fined R90 000 in November 2010. He was also found guilty on 27 charges of transgressions of the Income Tax Act after he failed to hand in tax returns. At the time of the court case, it also came to light that Komanisi was involved in mining companies where he receives bonuses and dividends of up to R140 000 per month.

The DA is very concerned about the above mentioned application and the allegations surrounding Komanisi. We fear that if the prospecting right is awarded, it will be to the financial detriment of the property owners. In this respect, we also want to voice our misgivings that consultants are being paid astronomical fees in order to make applications for mining companies such as

Kholisile Diamonds.

At the same time, the DA fears that if the prospecting right is awarded, it will be to the detriment of the environment. The area between Windsorton and Warrenton, on the Groenkloof farm, is the only spawning area of the Grootbek Geelvis, in the whole of South Africa. As it is, fishing is not allowed on that part of the river, only tag and release. Mining on this strip could thus well prove detrimental to this conservation project, and in turn the survival of this fish species.

While the DA doesn’t dispute that mining must take place, the big question for us is to what extent is the push to mine being factored into the sustainable development framework? And to what extent, and up to what point, can this particular development path be allowed to use high potential soils, biodiversity, water and carbon space in our bid for a green economy?

It is the DA’s submission that for too long now, the Department of Mineral Resources has regarded its principal legislation, the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, as being able to trump other legislation. In this regards, the Department of Mineral Resources has for several years now foisted unwanted mines on many local communities and they are increasingly imposing mining practices on agricultural land, and more worryingly, along our precious rivers.

In this regard, the DA calls on the Department of Environment and Conservation to also get involved. The DA is firmly of the view that this department must not sit alongside other government policies and programmes. Instead, it is other government policies and programmes that need to fit into the context of laws and regulations governing the environmental sector. Furthermore, regarding the business interests of Komanisi, we hope that that SARS is keeping a close eye on his operations.

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