The scramble for minerals in rural areas is transforming communities that once lived on subsistence farming into messy dumps grappling with pollution of water sources and destruction of grazing and ploughing lands.
Villagers find themselves frustrated as they have no access to authorities responsible for keeping mining houses in check and to information that may help them deal with those who flout regulations.
In this photo essay Lucas Ledwaba looks at the impact of mining on rural villages in Limpopo.
Mourners march during the funeral service of Tinus Manthata who died after he was shot in the back allegedly by security guards during a community meeting in Ga-Mampa, Sekhukhune in 2017. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba/Mukurukuru Media
Mashaba Koma, 64, has lost seven cows and eight goats after they drank water pumped from the Hackney Platinum Mine in Morapaneng, Limpopo. He sells some of his cattle at the beginning of the academic year to pay for his children’s school fees. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba\Mukurukuru Media
Residents of Tjibeng village are forced to leave their houses when blasting operations take place at the Bauba Mine which operates in their village. This notice board has been placed at the home of the local induna whose family says they and the community have not seen any improvement in their lives despite the mining companies making profit from the mineral resources in their village. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba\Mukurukuru Media
The Sefateng Chrome Mine is conducting its mining operations too close to homes in Ga-Phasha, in the Sekhukhune district of Limpopo. Residents fear for their lives as rocks from the operations sometimes roll onto their properties and their houses are now cracked. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba\Mukurukuru Media
The Sefateng Chrome Mine is dumping mined ore on the streets of Ga-Phasha villag in Sekhukhune district of Limpopo. Residents are up in arms against the blatant flouting of environmental health regulations which is threatening their daily lives. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba\Mukurukuru Media
Pensioner Mangope Thobejane herds his cattle at a stream which flows from the Hackney Platinum Mine in Morapaneng. Village residents say this ditch was created when water from the mine was pumped into the open. Cattle now drink from here and contract diseases as a result. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba\Mukurukuru Media
Police and security guards fired live rounds and rubber bullet to disperse a peaceful gathering of residents of Ga-Mampa and Ga-Phasha who wanted to engage with management from Sefateng Chrome Mine. 32-year-old Tinus Manthata was killed. No one has been arrested over his death. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba\Mukurukuru Media
Last cyclist standing…The village of Motlhotlo was once home to more than 700 families but only less than 50 families remain now. The rest have accepted a settlement offer of R20 000 in cash and new houses from Anglo Platinum which is expaning its Mogalakwena Platinum Mine operations. However the remaining families in Motlhotlo want a better deal wich includes more money and relocation to land where they can plough and rear cattle like they have all their lives. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba\Mukurukuru Media
His father used to lie under this tree when taking a break from ploughing his fields which were located right here where the Bauba mine now operates. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba/Mukurukuru Media
Mining in Ga-Mampa has led to the relocation of schools and homes. Some residents fear that the mining activity by Sefateng Chrome Mine is encroaching dangerously close to their homes. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba\Mukurukuru Media
At 91 years old, Sara Tsebe said she no longer had the energy to work the lands. She wished to leave Motlhotlo village due to the destruction caused by the Mogalakwena Platinum Mine. But she wanted a better deal from Anglo. She felt a cash amount of at least R400 000 and undertakings by Anglo to employ local youth including some of her grandchildren could sway her to consider moving eventually.
“I am old, too old now. I can no longer work in the fields. I just want to live in peace in a decent home,” she said. She died in 2018 before the relocation could be finalised. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba\Mukurukuru Media
Children play skipping rope in the streets of Monametsi, a township settlement built by Anglo. They are oblivious of the raging anger and dissatisfaction among their parents. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba\Mukurukuru Media
Only memories remain of the village of Ga-Mokgotho whose residents were relocated to Monametsi, a new towship settlement. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba\Mukurukuru Media