My name is Tshepo Mmusi and i live in a township called Jouberton near Klerksdorp, and i work for the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission. I am one of the community monitors which is hosted by Benchmarks Foundation and i work with my fellow conrades Talita Diphoko from Dominionville and Mahadio Maitsile from Kanana Township near Orkney.
i have been an active monitor since last year and so far i have published a number of articles around uranium mining especially in Dominionville. Klerksdorp is surrounded by areas of high degree of mining activities and that is uranium and gold mining and the areas include Stilfontein, Vaal Reefs, Orkney, and Haartebeesfontein.
In the articles that i have published i have covered the devastating reality uranium mining to employees and the danger that uranium mining pose to members of our communities especially those of Dominionville and the environment in general.
The research that we conducted in Dominionville gave a clear picture of how irresponsible mining stunted members of that community. Majority of people residing in the area are illiterate and that makes it easy for corporations to take advantage of them and to make them more vulnerable.
This community comprises of plus minus 900 people that includes men, women, children and the elderly. The community is flanked by a slime dam and an operating shaft and during windy weather conditions dust from the slime dam blows dust directly to the community and on daily basis during the day the operating shaft blow dust to the community, every day is a nightmare. There is a power station that has been built by a mining company within the community but only supplies the neighboring shafts with electricity and not the community. Unemployment, teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS infections are very high. there is no proper housing, roads infrastructure and the community is dependent on mobile clinic which comes on scheduled days. In reality Dominionville is banana republic for corporations
I have also covered articles articles on the impact of uranium and radiation on the mine workers health wise, and when i was interviewing many of them they were complaining about respiratory diseases, chest pains, sore and swollen joints and coughing black stuff. The problem on this regard with safety in the work place because many were were saying that they were not provided with safety equipments and gear. others were complaining about unfair dismissals by the company when they realized that employees were from time to time getting ill and they will be subjected to medical exit procedure which strategically retrenched them. Many are now vulnerable, unemployed and burdening their immediate families who must take care of them medically and struggle to make ends meet.
The companies which have mined in the area include Anglo Gold which mainly mined gold in the 1960’s and it left it was followed by informal miners who mined in the area informally and the company was known as Stiet mining.
In 2003 a Canadian Company called Uranium One came to the picture and bought the shafts and it operated for a number of years. After dissatisfaction and demonstrations by mine workers and community members, and intervention by civil society organizations nationally and internationally the company closed its operations after board members declared operations as non profitable. Today there is a new BEE company that took over operations by the name of Shiva Uranium. The question that everyone asks is “is this company going to continue where the previous one left of ?’ We will have to wait and see about that. The struggle continues Aluta Continua !!!