A collective of movements is calling for swifter and more comprehensive relief, rebuilding and reparations for those affected by the catastrophic Jagersfontein dam collapse disaster which occurred on 11 September 2022.

The Rural Women’s Assembly, Inyanda National Land Movement, Assembly of the Unemployed (AOU), Botshabelo Unemployed Movement (BUM) and Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE) would like to express our deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the Jagersfontein disaster. We wish those who sustained injuries a speedy recovery and urge authorities to intensify the search for those who are still reported to be missing.

Our movements are deeply concerned about the social, health (physical and mental) and environmental impact following this disaster. Besides the damage to public infrastructure, reports further indicate that several farms and vegetable gardens in the area have been destroyed. Traumatised residents are not only homeless, but their livelihoods are in ruin. The flooding released mine waste which may still even contaminate areas beyond Jagersfontein. The full scale of this ecological horror is yet to be determined.

Representatives of our movements visited Jagersfontein to see how to provide solidarity and support for those affected. “Our eyewitness accounts show that the impact of this disaster is so much worse than reported,” says Moipone Jwayi from the Rural Women’s Assembly. “As the Rural Women’s Assembly, we met with women in the area who shared their experiences. We are deeply disturbed by the ineffective roll out of disaster relief efforts. The company which owns the tailings dam must do much more to support residents, especially vulnerable women and children, who are trying to rebuild their lives amidst such tragedy,” adds Moipone.
One example is the experience of Poppy Sebonyane, a resident of Charlesville in Jagersfontein. Sebonyane lives with her three children and is a livestock farmer. Her livestock of four cattle and two calves are missing. “We are all traumatised by this ordeal. I worry a lot about children because as we speak my children can’t sleep at night. When it’s time for them to sleep, they keep on reliving the horrific scenes in their heads. I feel helpless as a mother because there is nothing I can do to help my children to heal from this trauma,” says Sebonyane. “The Jagersfontein community must be consulted on what assistance they need to rebuild their lives and livelihoods,” adds Jwayi.

“We demand that those responsible be held accountable and charged criminally. We call on all spheres of government, the tailings dam owners to shareholders to act much more generously towards the community of Jagersfontein. We call on Parliament and regulatory bodies to ensure that all tailings dams across the country are subject to more vigorous oversight. There is no need for a disaster like this to ever happen again,” says Lulama Nkopo from the Inyanda National Land Movement.

“Small scale farmers, producers and food gardeners were already struggling, but now they have been dispossessed of their homes and livelihoods in a context of a national unemployment crisis. We demand much better financial support for those affected by this disaster,” says Mooketsi Diba from the Botshabelo Unemployed Movement (BUM).

“This disaster is in keeping with the legacy of extractive industries. Extractive industries, such as the mining sector, are unaccountable. History has shown that they prioritise profits at the expense of the lives, livelihoods and the wellbeing of the poor. They don’t care about our people. All they care about is extracting our natural resources from our land, until all that is left is a trail of destruction and despair,” says Aaron from the Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE).

Our collective of movements are calling for:

  • Reparations from the tailing dam owners to rebuild the affected areas of the town and infrastructure.
  • Fast track the rebuilding of houses. The Free State government has committed to a deadline for the rebuilding of houses before the end of the year. This deadline must be strictly adhered to. The cost of the building must be paid for by the tailings dam owners and not taxpayers.
  • Appropriate financial compensation for the loss of livelihoods and material goods
  • Access to land, with water, for the affected small scale farmers and vegetable garden owners.
  • An independent task team to investigate the short to long term impact on health, education, infrastructure and the environment with powers to make recommendations, which must be enforced.
  • Criminal charges against those responsible for this disaster
  • Parliament and regulatory bodies to implement more effective oversight of tailings dams to mitigate any risk of a repeat of such a disaster
  • We reiterate our collective demand for a Basic Income Grant set at R1 500

For media interviews, please contact:

Rural Women’s Assembly
Moipone Jwayi – 072 936 1798

Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE)
Aaron Ranayeke – 067 993 0823

Botshabelo Unemployed Movement (BUM)
Mooketsi Diba – 073 217 9686

Inyanda National Land Movement
Lulama Nkopo – 083 207 2508

Assembly of the Unemployed
Khokhoma Motsi 073 490 7623

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