The Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature (“GARN”) stands in solidarity with Nonhle Mbuthuma, whose life is under threat for defending her community and Mother Earth against mining and a toll road. Nonhle is a director of the Wild Law Institute (a member of GARN), a leading member of the Amadiba Crisis Committee (“ACC”) and a courageous community leader.
On Monday morning 16 November, Nohle received an SMS saying: “Bazooka was number one, Sbu was number 2 and you Nonhle you are number 3. We are coming for you.”
Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe, is a former chairperson of the ACC who was gunned down in front of his son in 2016. His successor as chairperson, Sibusiso Mqadi (“Sbu”) died in hospital on 7 November 2020 after a short illness and will be buried tomorrow. The cause of death is still being investigated.
This is part of a worrying escalation of attacks on defenders of Mother Earth in South Africa. Two weeks ago, 63-year-old Fikile Ntshangase was gunned down by unknown assailants while preparing supper for her family. She was the deputy chairperson of the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation (Mcejo), and a leading figure in community efforts to fight the expansion of the Somkhele coal mine on the borders of the Umfolozi wilderness area in KwaZulu Natal. Her assassination is the latest in a string of unsolved murders of anti-mining activists.
We call on the South African Government to take decisive action at the highest level to stop the escalation in the intimidation and assassinations of people who defend their communities and Mother Earth against mining and other environmentally destructive “development”. The fact the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (“Hawks”) and the South African Police Service as a whole, have failed to arrest those responsible for attacking and killing community leaders, is a damning indictment of the governments unwillingness to protect those who defend the fundamental rights of human beings and Nature.
GARN members around the world salute and stand with all the courageous people who defend Mother Earth for the good of all. We call on all Earth-loving people to join us in defending the defenders of Mother Earth against the violence of those who want to eliminate them so that they can destroy living communities to make the wealthy even richer.
Amnesty International has started a campaign: https://www.amnesty.org/en/get-involved/take-action/w4r-2018-south-africa-nonhle-mbuthuma/
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