Cape Town - Eighty-two civil society organisations on Wednesday condemned the murder of an anti-mining activist on the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape, and called for all mining applications to be suspended.
"We demand that the minister of mineral resources suspends all mining applications until there has been a full and independent investigation of Rhadebe's murder!" the 82 civil society organisations said in a joint statement.
Amadiba Crisis Committee chairperson Sikhosiphi "Bazooka" Rhadebe was shot multiple times in his upper body, Eastern Cape police spokesperson Lieutenant Khaya Tonjeni told Fin24 on Wednesday.
READ MORE: Wild Coast anti-mining leader murdered
The murder was termed "an assassination" by committee members Mzamo Dlamini and Nonhle Mbuthuma. “Bazooka made the ultimate sacrifice defending our ancestral land of Amadiba on the Wild Coast,” they said in a statement issued earlier on Wednesday.
The 82 organisations included among others Oxfam SA, Right2Know Campaign (R2K), and the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC).
"We are shocked and outraged to learn of the brutal murder of the chairperson of Amadiba Crisis Committee, Sikhosiphi Bazooka Rhadebe. As chair of the ACC, Bazooka Rhadebe was helping lead the struggle of Amadiba residents on the Wild Coast in opposing open-cast titanium mining by the Australian mining company MRC," they said.
The murder comes amid escalating violence in the area, which the committee alleges is linked to MRC’s decade-long bid to mine Xolobeni for the space-age titanium mineral.
FULL STORY: Court battle linked to Wild Coast mining rights heats up
According to civil society groups this is not the first case of intimidation or violence against those who have opposed mining in the area.
"The assassination of Bazooka is a painful reminder that from abaHlali baseMjondolo to the Helen Suzman Foundation, there is an existing pattern of criminal attacks on civil society formations, especially those in townships, informal settlements and rural areas.
"For years, poor people’s movements in different parts of the country have experienced regular harassment, intimidation, detention and violence against their members. It is worst felt when the media are far away and the victims are poor, black or rural, and when major industries stand to make billions in profit," they said.
MRC chairperson Mark Caruso was not aware of the incident when contacted by Fin24 on Wednesday. “I am not in a position to comment with any authority as I am uninformed of any of the facts surrounding this incident, save other than to say that we do not condone violence in any form. It is tragic that a man has lost his life regardless of the circumstances, which in all fairness, despite, the article, are yet to be established.”
FULL OPINION STORY: Wild Coast titanium remains ‘unobtainium’