On 12 August 2019, the people of Leseding village (also known as Steenbokpan) in the Lephalale area of the Waterberg, Limpopo province received an invitation by SMS and email inviting the community to a “special engagement meeting” with Boikarabelo Coal Mine which was to be held the following day, on 13 August 2019.
The invitation was sent by Ledjadja Coal’s Social and Labour Plan Practitioner, Lerato Ratsoenyane and indicated that the status of the Boikarabelo Coal Mine and its progress would be discussed. The mine indicated that it would be an update meeting for the community and would be conducted in English. However translations in Afrikaans and SeTswana would be available. The mine apologised for the short-notice in the invitation.
On 13 August 2019, despite the short notice, the Leseding Community attended the meeting and listened to presentations but soon became frustrated by the Mine’s failure to provide proper answers and its lack of respect toward the community. The community thereafter disrupted the meeting and through singing and chanting requested that the Boikarabelo mine management leave.
The Leseding Community’s concerns were that:
- The invitation to the meeting was received one day prior to the meeting. This was not enough time for the community to prepare in order to participate fully;
- The presentation was conducted in English only – Leseding community members speak SeTswana and were not able to fully understand the presentations in order to ask questions afterwards;
- The register was handed over without it being signed;
- The Mine has never conducted direct community consultation in this area before – therefore it was unfair to characterise the meeting as an “update” or “progress” meeting.
- Boikarabelo Coal Mine management failed to respond the all the Community’s questions and comments and did not clarify issues.
“Boikarabo” ironically means “to be responsible” in SeTswana – to invite a community to a meeting one day earlier and then fail to answer questions or address the community in the mother tongue is not being responsible!