26 November, Cape Town: Natural Justice (NJ) is deeply concerned that, despite nation-wide protests against Shell, petitions and multiple legal letters sent to our government ministries, no response has been received from either the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy nor the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment concerning our rightful request to halt commencement of seismic surveys in the Transkei Exploration Area by Impact Africa Ltd and/or Shell PLC, due to start next Wednesday.
To date, NJ has not received a response to our letter sent on 18 November to the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy, querying the renewal of an exploration right granted to Impact Africa LTD and Shell PLC, without prior notice, public participation, nor consultation with impacted communities. Acting on behalf of Natural Justice, the Kei Mouth Ski Boat Club and the Border Deep Sea Angling Association, Cullinan and Associates, followed up with letters to both the Ministries of Mineral Resources and Energy, of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment sent on 23 November.
With a deadline to respond by 26th November, Cullinan and Associates requested that Barbara Creecy – Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment issue a coastal protection notice, while requesting Gwede Mantashe, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy suspend seismic activity and exploration by Shell and Impact Africa, due to commence on 1st December.
We find the public statement released by DFFE on 22 November to be profoundly inadequate, failing not only to respond to our specific request for a protection notice, but also failing in their primary mandate to “give effect to the right of citizens to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being, and to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations.”
“We, as concerned parties, have actively sought to engage with the government on this matter, reminding them of their legal obligation to respect citizens’ right of consultation and public participation, but they have not afforded us, nor the communities directly impacted, the opportunity to engage,” says Jacqueline Rukanda, NJ’s Senior Programme Officer.
Scientists, environmentalists and community activists living along the coast have warned of the dire and devastating ecological, economic and social impacts of the seismic survey and any oil and gas extraction thereafter. Not only will this destroy an already precarious ecosystem and ailing environment, but this exploration poses serious immediate and long term threats to communities’ livelihoods, heritage, human right to a healthy environment and ultimately their right to self determination.
Pooven Moodley, NJ Executive Director says, “This flies in the face of the government’s responsibility to protect and safeguard human rights and the environment. It also undermines our government’s commitments at the recent COP26 in Glasgow to lower emissions and advance a just transition. This is anything, but just.”
“Royal Dutch Shell must not forget that it was recently beaten in court and compelled to reduce its emissions by 45% by 2030. The Dutch court also ruled that Shell was a threat to the right to life. Our government also seems to have amnesia – forgetting their constitutional and human rights obligations to South Africans and their obligation under the Paris Climate Agreement to mitigate the climate crisis for people now, and for future generations. If we have to go to court to remind them, we will,” says Moodley.
Border Deep Sea Angling Association’s John Luef said: “It’s ludicrous that this is even being considered as an option by our government to look for gas and oil reserves in an evolving ‘greener’ world in any of our coastal waters, let alone the extremely biodiverse and sensitive Wild Coast. We will not take this lying down and will do all in our power to put a stop to it.”
Voices from impacted communities:
“For subsistence fishers in Durban, oil and gas exploration wipes out an entire food supply and destroys economic opportunities in a country with incredibly high unemployment and poverty rates. The risk of oil spills are too high- these will not only kill marine and ocean life, but will bring our tourism industry, which employs thousands of people, to a standstill.” – Desmond D’Sa, Coordinator, South Durban Community Environmental Alliance.
“If you destroy the ocean, you destroy human life. Our livelihoods as indigenous people will be history if the South African Government allows Shell to mine our ocean, our spiritual healing place. Communities have the right to choose and we have the right to live in a healthy environment. As the Amadiba Crisis Committee we say no to any kind of extractivism. Let’s put people before profit.” – Nonhle Buthuma, Amadiba Crisis Committee.
“The ocean is a commonage for all of us. It is sacred to us and we use it for rituals. Extractivism and oil exploration hinders our right to practise our religion and threatens our cultural heritage. Oil and gas will lead to more emissions, and In the face of climate change, this is wholly irresponsible. We as Amadiba people unanimously oppose this oil exploration and destruction of our sacred land” – Sinegugu Zukulu, Sustaining the Wild Coast.
“The ocean is not a commodity for exploitation that only lines the pockets of a wealthy elite. The ocean is our heritage and life source. The global temperatures are rising and climate change is an emergency. Governments must stop investing in fossil fuels immediately”- Sherelee Odayar, environmental activist.
“Our ocean is not for sale. Why weren’t impacted communities consulted? It is our right to be consulted. Wild coast communities were excluded – all the people from fishing villages, as far as Jeffery’s Bay and Plettenberg Bay. We demand that our rights, heritage and environment be respected. We will not allow oil and gas, not now and not ever” – Neville Van Rooy, The Green Connection.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Katherine Robinson, Natural Justice email@example.com +27 76227 6517
Annette Gibbs, Cullinan & Associates, firstname.lastname@example.org
*photos by South Durban Community Environmental Alliance and Green Connection