Party to respond to claims it told miners to go back to work
ECONOMIC Freedom Fighters (EFF) stands accused of meddling in the affairs of the Mphahlele community in Limpopo with the aim of protecting illegal mining activities in the area.
The Mphahlele Royal Council has since written a letter to EFF provincial secretary Jossey Buthane complaining of how the party was destabilising the smooth running of traditional affairs in defence of an illegal mine extracting chrome and other minerals in the area.
The last straw, which also prompted a letter to the EFF, was when the leader of the party in the Lepelle-Nkumpi area, Topa Mphahlele, led a group of members and supporters to Sefalaolo Mine where workers had gone on strike. It is alleged he used the name of EFF national leader Julius Malema.
The council wrote in the letter dated 20 September 2017: “He bullied the workers telling them that they should resume duty whether they liked it or not because Mr Malema will not like the delay in production. These constitute gross interference by a political party into Mphahlele Royal Council affairs.
“Your party has voters in our community and we wonder whether this interference is part of your modus operandi. The said Mr T Mphahlele after using the name of the EFF to intimidate the strikers, he went to confer privately with management in their offices at the site. This gave credence to his claim that he was having a party interest in the mine. We are now doubtful whether your party is really anti-corruption.
“Your party is protecting an illegal mining operation. The strike by security workers was a stand against nefarious activity within the mine, namely, removal or theft of minerals.”
The council has told African Times that it has not yet received a response from the EFF.
But Buthane has indicated that he has not seen the letter. However, he promised that he will respond to the council.
“I’ve not seen the letter but I’ll have to look and familiarise myself with it. But what I can tell you without hesitation is that there is no way the CIC (Malema) is involved in the issues of that mine. Topa Mphahlele is our councillor and he has never led any group of people or force people to work. But I’ll look into the letter and respond to the council,” Buthane said.
The council has been engaged in a protracted battle with a private company known as Dithabeng Mining which is also accused of “capturing” local chief Kgosikgadi Sophia Ngwanamohube Phatudi- Mphahlele and her son Thabo Malekutu.
The three were accused of entering into an unlawful joint venture to mine chrome and other minerals as the prospecting right was issued to Mphahlele Community Development Trust. Another point of dispute was that Dithabeng further contravened the regulations as contained in the prospective work programme by embarking on bulk sampling.
A week ago, the Polokwane High Court issued a draft order in which it directed Thabo Malekutu, Kgosikgadi Phatudi-Mphahlele and Dithabeng Mining to stop conducting illegal and unlawful mining activities without a valid mining permit in contravention of the prospecting rights granted to Community Development Trust.
Another bone of contention is around the legitimacy of Kgosikgadi Phatudi-Mphahlele to still be the traditional leader of the Bakgakga Ba Ga Mphahlele as she has been a regent for 41 years and her certificate is said to have expired.
Accusations have been levelled against her that she appointed her son, Thabo Malekutu, to act as the leader of Bakgakga Ba Ga Mphahlele without the resolution by the Traditional Authority and the Royal Counci.
She also appointed him as the representative of the Community Development Trust.
It is against this background that the Polokwane High Court will on November 23 hear arguments on why certain aspects cannot be reviewed and set aside. They include:
l The decision by Kgosikgadi Phatudi Mphahlele to “unlawfully and or illegally appointing Thabo Malekutu to represent the Community Development Trust and Bakgakga Ba Ga Mphahlele
l The decision by Kgosikgadi Phatudi-Mphahlele to appoint Thabo Malekutu as the senior traditional leader of the Bakgakga Ba Ga Mphahlele
l The decision by Thabo Malekutu to apply for the amendment of the prospecting work programme to include bulk sampling.
A well-known Polokwane attorney who is believed will represent Kgosikgadi Phatudi-Mphahlele and Thabo Malekutu was this week reluctant to speak to African Times on the matter.