Ernest Ngwenya’s home of over 40 years may soon be reduced to rubble. Already it’s surrounded by rubble from the Ikwezi Mine in Kliprand, a rural settlement near Danhausser in KwaZulu-Natal.

The area which consists of families that rely on subsistence farming is in the throes of a scramble for coal by Ikwezi which has demolished homes, displaced families and dug up graves to expand its operations.

Ikwhezi Coal’s operations are causing serious challenges to the Kliprand community which has lived here for over 40 years. Trucks pass through the village causing dust and coal dust rises from the dunes posing a risk to both people and animals. Ikwezi has now started dumping rubble in front of the homes. Families live in constant fear of being forcibly removed from the area. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba/Mukurukuru Media

“I think we will be removed as time goes by,” says Ngwenya, whose family faces the daily challenges of black dust from the coal, noise and dust from trucks passing just by his gate.

“I don’t know what will happen. We are just confused,” he says.

Ikwhezi Coal’s operations are causing serious challenges to the Kliprand community which has lived here for over 40 years. Trucks pass through the village causing dust and coal dust rises from the dunes posing a risk to both people and animals. Ikwezi has now started dumping rubble in front of the homes. Families live in constant fear of being forcibly removed from the area. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba/Mukurukuru Media

Dudu Hadebe, whose family home was demolished last year allegedly with an inappropriate court order, now find themselves squatting on a relative’s piece of land near Osizweni in Newcastle. They have never been compensated for the loss of their home, furniture, cattle and for their dignity.

Phumelele Elizabeth Hadebe also finds herself in a similar situation, living in a shack on land she doesn’t own after her home was demolished last year. They are victims of a new scramble for land which pits mining companies and communities whose traditional way of life is under threat from mining.

“Life has changed a lot. We are devastated. The mine has brought us misery. I’m suffering even the kids are not coping at school. They are sick too,” says Hadebe on the impact of her forced removal from her home.  

Elizabeth Hadebe stands near the rubble of what used to be her home in Kliprand near Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal. Her homestead was demolished to make way for Ikwezi Mining’s coal mining operations. The grave of her husband and those of other family members are set to be exhumed from the area. Big mining trucks now roam the space where her children once played and her cattle grazed. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba/Mukurukuru Media
Njabulo Hadebe stands near the house Ikwezi Coal built for his family after they were forcibly removed from their home in Kliprand. The house is located near the mine and Njabulo and his family have refused to occupy it saying they were never consulted and that the house is buult on land where there is no enough grazing land for their cattle and that it is too close to mine which poses a health risk. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba/Mukurukuru Media
Community activist Lucky Shabalala faces charges of assault and intimidation after leading a protest on Ikwezi Coal. His lawyers and the community of Kliprand believe the cvharges are just a smokescreen and an attempt by Ikwezi to initmidate those who raise objection against human rights violations by Ikwezi. Photo: Lucas Ledwaba/Mukurukuru Media

*This is part of Ledwaba’s upcoming book on land reform and land politics in the new South Africa.