The brutal nature of the struggle over land and platinum mining rights was underlined in South Africa this week.
On Wednesday of last week, 23 May 2007, 18 community members in Maandagshoek, in the Tubatse municipality north of Burgersfort were arrested. Among them were two breastfeeding women and a pregnant woman.
They were arrested for blocking their community road by placing stones and rocks to prevent mining vehicles from coming onto their land to prospect for platinum.
The road was being used by the mining company, Nkwe Resources, which is undertaking exploration in the area.
Since then these women have been denied the right to have their children with them so that they could feed them.
Legally they were meant to appear in court within 48 hours, but they are still in detention.
The 18 have been charged with public violence.
Angered by the court’s decision, community members in Maandagshoek set fire to an exploration drilling vehicle today.
Emmanuel Makgoga, spokesperson for the Maandagshoek Development Community said, “The community has lost respect for the law, for these people are being held illegally. The state had 48 hours to charge them, and they have failed to do this.
“While I do not condone violence of any nature, exploring and drilling on peoples' with police support is an act of violence, and I can understand the community reaction to their brothers and sisters being imprisoned.”