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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 23rd September 2016 > DEEP TROUBLE

DEEP TROUBLE

DID BAZOOKA RHADEBE’S CAMPAIGN TO STOP A NEW MINE ON A STRETCH OF SOUTH AFRICA’S BEAUTIFUL COASTLINE MAKE HIM A TARGET?
A ROCKY HISTORY: The Big Hole diamond mine in Kimberley, South Africa, closed in 1914 and is now the site of a museum on the history of mining in South Africa.

THE LAST

TIME NONHLE MBUTHUMA spoke to Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe, she was sitting in the parking lot of a busy shopping center in the small coastal town of Port Edward, South Africa. For years, she and Rhadebe had been fighting to keep an Australian company from setting up a mine among the sand dunes and scattering of villages on South Africa’s famous Wild Coast, where the two activists had grown up. Rhadebe warned Mbuthuma and Mzamo Dlamini, another anti-mining activist who was in the car that evening, that they were in danger.

HIGH STAKES: The Marikana platinum mine has become a symbol of the tensions surrounding mining in South Africa since police opened fire on striking workers in 2012, killing 34 people.
FROM LEFT: WALDO SWIEGERS/BLOOMBERG/GETTY; FELIX DLANGAMANDLA/FOTO24/GALLO IMAGES/GETTY; PREVIOUS SPREAD: DEAGOSTINI/GETTY

“He said, ‘Guys, please take care of yourselves,’” Mbuthuma recalls. Rhadebe, who owned several taxis in the area, alleged that members of their community who were in favor of the mine had drafted a hit list of anti-mining activists, and he was on it. “‘I know why they put me at the top,’” Mbuthuma recalls her friend saying. “‘If they strike my people, I will strike back.’”

That evening—March 22—in the same shopping center parking lot in Port Edward, two young men on vacation from Johannesburg and sitting in their white Volkswagen Polo were hijacked at gunpoint by two men. The hijackers put one of the tourists in the trunk and tied the other up in the backseat without blindfolding him, according to Richard Spoor Inc. Attorneys, a law firm that has assisted members of the local community in contesting the efforts of the Australian company Mineral Commodities Ltd. (MRC) to set up the mine through a subsidiary. (The details of this account came primarily from the law firm.)

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This week Newsweek EU reports on Donald Trump getting into the White House; his many foreign business deals could create a national security nightmare.
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