Instead, the mining company carried out a litany of human rights violations against the community, including polluting water supplies and refusing the community access to traditional burial grounds.
Francina Nkosi, an activist from Lephalale, witnessed many of these abuses firsthand.
“Women in these communities are the ones most affected. When there is pollution, the women have health issues and they are the ones who are taking care of the men when they are sick. The mines also bring an influx of people coming and looking for jobs and the men who have left their wives at home use their money to bribe the young girls.”
To make matters worse, Francina also discovered that Efic, Australia’s Export Credit Agency, was considering giving the same mining company funding for a new coal mine in Limpopo, threatening yet more human rights violations and catastrophic consequences for the climate and local community.
Francina decided enough was enough. She was going to stand up and speak out against the Australian mining giant. She was going to hold them to account.
With support from ActionAid Australia’s network of community activists, Francina launched a campaign in Australia to stop Efic funding the new mine and to raise awareness about the behaviour of Australian mining companies in communities like hers.
In September 2017, Francina flew to Perth to campaign at the Africa Down Under Conference, where Australian mining companies promote new mines in Africa. Standing outside the conference, Francina said, “I have come all the way from South Africa to make sure our voices are heard, and I’m not going to rest until we are being listened to.”
It was a promise Francina delivered on. With backing from ActionAid Australia’s activist network, Francina led a campaign that grabbed headlines in the Australian media, won support from the Australian public, and pushed Efic to drop the funding proposition for the new mine.
There is still much more work to do to ensure justice for mining affected communities in South Africa, but Francina, with ActionAid Australia’s community activist network, well and truly won this battle – proving that when women work together in solidarity, they truly are an unstoppable force.