Mining activities continue to dispossess black families in South Africa

Dineo Skosana, a researcher at the Society, Work and Politics Institute, recently published a short article in The Conversation about her research into grave relocations and dispossession by mining corporations in South Africa:

Dispossession in South Africa is associated with the period of colonialism and apartheid. As a result, not much consideration is given to how previously marginalised black communities continue to be dispossessed by coal-mining activities in democratic South Africa.

In a paper that formed part of my PhD research, I investigated what communities lose because of coal mining. The research was conducted in Ogies, a town that lies 29km south-west of Witbank (Emalahleni), in Mpumalanga province.

I found that the relocations continue as a result of coal mining companies buying up land owned by white farmers. Black farm dwellers and labour tenants are given short shrift because the mining companies see houses – and graves – as mere movable structures and, therefore, replaceable.

Dispossession is historically thought about only in relation to land. But this framework is limited, given that relocation affects more than people’s homes. It happens to the graves of their families too. In my research I refer to this as loss of the intangible – families lose their spiritual security, identity, heritage and belonging. Household and grave relocations feature as an aspect of dispossession in my work. CONTINUE READING

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