In South Africa, the state remains willing to sacrifice rural communities for its coal-fired development agenda, one that persists despite visible social and environmental devastation and the growing threat of climate disaster. HALI HEALY writes in this guest post about the communities’ response
Vigils were held across South Africa last month for murdered anti-coal activist Mama Fikile Ntshangase, who was brutally gunned down in front of her teenage grandson on 22 October
2020. She had dared to oppose plans by coal mining company Petmin to expand operations in the Somkhele region of KwaZulu-Natal province.
Vigils serve multiple important social functions. Usually held at night, they are occasions for mourning that allow the bereaved to remember the significance of their loss. Vigils also can serve as protests, drawing public attention to travesties of justice. Or they can be understood as a collective response to tragedy, one that hopefully eases the visceral pain of grief, replacing it with a sense of peace, and in the process, offering some sort of societal lesson.
Despite being held in broad daylight, the vigil for Ntshangase in Johannesburg was all of these things.
Gathered under the searing mid-day sun, a small group of some 15-20 activists, most of them women, convened in front of the offices of the Minerals Council, a powerful industry association, in central Johannesburg.
Coordinated with the assistance of the Extinction Rebellion network, they came from Read the rest of this entry »