The Dominionville community resists forced removals by Shiva Uranium

Story by: Joe Mashilo,  member of justice and peace group in Klerksdorp diocese

The Dominionville community started long ago in the 1930’s with Anglo gold mining exploration and a massive influx of people in search of work. After considerable years, the mine closed. When the mine closed, many people did not leave the place. They stay on the land and restorted to farming. Then, a new mining company from Canada, called Uranuin, came in 2003 and left soon afterwards. Currently, there is a new mining company that has arrived in the area. Its name is Shiva uranium. It now wants to remove the community from the area. About 800 people are still staying at the community. The mine wants to remove these people from the mine land.

Other than facing forced removal, the community is also facing other problems. Unemployment, alcohol and drug abuse are the biggest problems in this community, also teenage pregnancy. Many young people drop out of school because of poverty. The mines which have operated in the area have failed to employ the local people due to lack of required skills. Because of they do not have anything to do, they resort to alcohol and drugs so as to forget their problems. The area is also not safe, especially for the children. There are hidden shafts which can be dangerous.   Then, there is also a problem of air pollution from the tailing dams.   People have plastered their walls with sand coming from the tailing dams.  After plastering, shiny colours like purple, white black, grey, orange and yellow can be noticed. The community was made aware that the tailing dam contain heavy metals.

Seeking solutions….

Countless number of meetings were held after the Justice and peace commission in the Diocese started working in the community. Other organisations such as Jubilee South Africa helped to test the levels of radiation in the area. The results were not satisfactory.  The community tried several times to engage the mines to discuss the problem of forced removal. This has not worked.  The mines argue that the community are staying in a private property. They should be removed.   They do not consider that the community has been living in this land for many years. All these years, nobody told them that it is private property until now. The community also tried to engage the councillor. Their views are not heard.

Serious engagement though meetings with the SHIVA uranium mines management, the district municipality and the department of mineral resources must take place. The community must lead the struggle.   The Justice and Peace will be asked to help with the administration to ensure that such engagement takes place. An amicable solutions to all the problems of the dominionville people must found, all other key players will be identified and asked to come on board.