A court has ruled that companies must first seek permission from local communities if they plan to mine on their ancestral land. This represents a new achievement in land and mining rights for South Africa.
On 9 December 2018, the world will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, with International Human Rights Day following a day later. It is therefore fitting that this historic achievement for environmental defenders and the community of Xolobeni came when it did, and that the principle of Free Prior and Informed Consent has been upheld for communities and indigenous peoples’ in South Africa.
Xolobeni is home to the Umgungundlovu community, and some 70 to 75 households comprising more than 600 people. The land they live on provides the community with food and grazing for their livestock, water, firewood, medicinal plants as well as their livelihoods be it agriculture or tourism. Xolobeni is not just home to the living; it is the final resting place of many of the community’s ancestors. The land has deep spiritual, religious and cultural importance.