Pro-mining Xolobeni residents get death threats
E-mail vows to carry out 'long and protracted' kills unless they change their tune
Scores of people who have dared to express support for titanium mining in the divided Xolobeni area of the Eastern Cape are living in fear after receiving an e-mail saying their families would be tortured and killed.
The e-mail reads in part: “We will make a kill every time the mining minister harasses the Xolobeni community ... we will make a kill every fortnight until you fully retract your attempt to mine in the Xolobeni area. Kills will be long and protracted – not simple hits. We will draw out the individual's suffering over several days. It will not be pleasant. Men, women and children will die very painful deaths.”
Some people went into hiding after receiving the e-mail, which was signed by “Seventh Soul”.
One of those who was threatened, Zamile Qunya, is a vocal businessman known for clashing with the anti-mining group, the Amadiba Crisis Committee, led by Nonhle Mbuthuma.
Qunya told Times Select he had asked his lawyers to report the “shocking” e-mail to the authorities.
“I can confirm this but we’ve tasked our lawyer to handle this matter,” he said.
His lawyer, Unathi Ximbi, said the police had been alerted. “This is a serious threatening e-mail which was sent to all those who have access to e-mails and supporting the mining in the area,” said Ximbi.
No case had been opened at the police because they wanted “to check the authenticity of the e-mail”.
“I am meeting with the police this week on Wednesday where we can discuss a way forward. Some of the people have gone into hiding while some are still at home ... ”
Mbizana police spokesperson Warrant Officer Zilungile Nkamba could not be reached for comment to confirm that they had received the e-mail from Ximbi.
The e-mail, which was sent to about 20 people, also says: “Please note that if your company pursues mining in Xolobeni we will respond with direct and proportionate kills on your staff and their families. It’s fairly simple to dox your company, obtain personal information (including names, address and telephone numbers) of said staff and family members.”
To dox means to search for and publish private or identifying information about someone on the internet, typically with malicious intent.
The e-mail was sent from a Greg Solomon on January 16, a day after mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe visited Xolobeni last week and announced the imminent start of an independent survey in Xolobeni.
This was his second meeting with the broader community, which is in Bizana.
The survey is in line with a 2018 ruling by the North Gauteng High Court that called for thorough consultation with Xolobeni residents before any mining right was granted.
Mantashe said that on the basis of the survey the department will take a firm decision on the way forward.
He said if the residents said no, there would be no mining, but if they said yes, mining would proceed.
“If mining goes ahead in Xolobeni, it must be sustainable and co-exist with tourism, agriculture and other economic development initiatives,” Mantashe said last week.
The survey, to establish whether mining will proceed in that area, will begin in the next few weeks.
Xolobeni residents remain divided since Australian firm Mineral Commodities (MRC) showed an interest in extracting titanium from dunes near Xolobeni. The ACC is led by Mbuthuma while another side, known as Amabutho, was formerly led by Qunya.
Mbuthuma is said to be receiving financial backing from people who are not in support of the mine, while Amabutho is said to be connected with the mining company.
Xolobeni is a rural area in the Mbizana area under King Zanozuko Sigcau in the northern parts of the Eastern Cape coast. The divisions started in about 2002.
Community leader Nkosikhona Mathumbu has told Times Select he was aware of the matter: “We heard about that and we hope that the police could work and arrest those who are behind this.”
In March 2016, the then chairperson of the ACC, Xolobeni activist Sikhosiphi Bazooka Rhadebe, died after being shot eight times outside his house in Lurholweni township in Mbizana.