Community members complain about the demolition of workshops

Members of the Rietspruit community are concerned after the demolition of workshops believed to be used for their benefit.

According to a community leader, Mr. Joseph Nzimande, the workshops were demolished by the Sud 32 mine, which is now Seriti.

He said: “The mine started in 1978 and closed in 2002 in May. The mine promised to create sustainable projects for employees who did not get places in some sister mines after the transfer of employees. After the establishment of Klipspruit in the Ogies area, some employees were supposed to be taken in, but they were left behind, not taken to the Klipspruit mine and everything was left unattended by the mine. Also, the workshops left at the mine were supposed to be used by the community members for their benefit, but now they are being demolished without any consultation with the community members. Nothing is said by Seriti after taking over the leadership.

Nzimande further stated that at one time a private engineering company used the workshops, but that company ended up being liquidated and some company assets are still kept in some workshops. He said they even tried to engage with the municipality and the department of mineral resources, but all this did not yield any positive results.

He said they hope something can come out of using the workshops to benefit community members.

In his response, Mr. Hulisani Rasivhaga, spokesperson for Seriti, said that while Seriti understands the plight and concerns of local communities regarding economic development opportunities, the allegations that have been raised are not accurate.

“Rietspruit Mining Services was a 50/50 joint venture owned by South32 and Glencore which operated a coal mine until 2002. When Rietspruit Mine Services ceased mining and closed in 2002, the company hired as many employees as possible at other mines to minimize job losses. Seriti has since acquired certain assets and liabilities associated with Rietspruit, including land and structures on those lands. We understand that at the time of the closure, development initiatives involving ex-employees were put in place, but proved unsustainable over time.Like other infrastructure in Rietspruit, the industrial park workshops have unfortunately been vandalized over time and stripped of most of the “usable” components, thus making them unsafe and unfit for use,” Rasivhaga said.

He added that in 2019, South32 SAEC (now Seriti) commissioned a study to determine the integrity of the structure and the extent of repairs needed to restore them to functional condition. The study indicated that:

An initial investment of R97 million would be needed to make the structures functional and safe.

Many more millions would have been needed to ensure proper rezoning, as well as complete replacement of the electrical infrastructure.

Additionally, additional maintenance would also be required for long-term durability.

It is important to note that the study indicated that to be sustainable, other large and long-term investors would have to be found, but this initiative was not commercially viable and therefore would not be able to attract new investors. investments.

Given these results, which were repeatedly communicated, and the fact that the structures continued to pose a safety hazard to anyone entering them, Seriti made the decision to demolish the buildings. Seriti informed stakeholders of the tender process for the appointment of a supplier to carry out the demolition in November 2021, and a service provider was then appointed in February 2022.

“In response to concerns raised by stakeholders, engagements were held in March 2022 with community stakeholders including local councillors, community representatives, SAPS and the speaker’s office of the local municipality of ‘eMalahleni and the Public Participation Officer. Nine community members were employed by the successful contractor, and the nominated contractor purchases goods from local SMEs. Seriti also informed the community that they are exploring the possibility that once the demolition is completed and the site rehabilitated, it may provide opportunities for accessible agricultural land,” Mr. Rasivhaga concluded.

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