Community activist victimised by mine
- Lee-Anne Bruce
West Coast Resources seeks cost order to silence community activist
Dawid Markus is a community activist from Hondeklipbaai in the Western Cape. For many years, he has been working tirelessly on environmental issues affecting the area. He aims to ensure that his community does not lose access to their land, that the mines in the area follow the correct environmental processes and that they provide benefits to the community. One such operation is a nearby diamond mine run by West Coast Resources (Pty) Ltd.
Since West Coast Resources took over the operation from De Beers, Mr Markus has made a number of attempts to meet with senior management at the company to discuss the mine’s impact on his community. In November 2016, he was involved in a small protest in a further effort to secure such a meeting with the mine’s managers. In response, the mining company sought an interdict against Mr Markus as a way to silence protest and prevent him from exercising his constitutional right to peaceful and unarmed demonstration. This process involved a number of court appearances, with a final interdict being partly granted against him while he did not have full legal representation.
West Coast Resources is now seeking an order of costs against Mr Markus, claiming that a disabled community activist should be responsible for their legal fees. The Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) is representing Mr Markus in court today, arguing that there ought to be no order of costs against him where the mine was only partially successful in its application, and where he sought to defend his Constitutional rights.
“This is just one example of the kind of victimisation facing activists every day,” says CALS Deputy Director Lisa Chamberlain. “Granting an order of costs here would be financially devastating for a person who is simply acting in the best interests of his community by trying to ensure that mining companies follow the law.”
The matter is set to be heard on 3 February 2017 in the Northern Cape High Court, Kimberley.
For inquiries, please contact:
- Wandisa Phama
- 011 717 8608
- 078 684 3140