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SA: Statement by the Bench Marks Foundation, independent corporate social responsibility monitoring organisation, Community Monitors blow whistle on abuse of power by police (28/03/2013)

28th March 2013


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Community members in Chaneng Village in Rustenburg have been victims of an abuse of power by the police since 2010, according to community group, Bua Mining Communities, which forms part of Bench Marks Foundations’ Community Monitors Project.
Arbitrary arrests for public violence and malicious damage to property, detention without trial, physical abuse and torture are among the many incidents the community monitors have reported to local and national authorities, without success.
The Bench Marks Foundation’s Monitoring Project was set up in 2009.The aim of the project is to help develop the capacity of local communities to monitor theactions of corporations and government as well as take action where they identify destruction of the environment and the undermining of community life.
“The monitors have reported some serious human rights violations committed on community members in Chaneng Village,” says John Capel, Executive Director of the Bench Marks Foundation. “One of the most distressing incidents reported is that of six young women who have been detained without trial for more than 96 hours. These women have been detained since Human Rights Day on 21 March 2013.
“According to the monitors, they have been beaten whilst in custody, deprived of food and humiliated.”
Capel says that the monitors have also reported that a number of people who have been arrested through the years have been shot with rubber bullets and their wounds allowed to fester.
“Community members of Chaneng Village are at their wits end. The conflict seemingly stems from the use of the police by Royal Bafokeng Platinum Mine to harass and intimidate the community. For the past five years, the community has been protesting against the illegal processes followed by Royal Bafokeng Platinum Mine in acquiring their mining licence for the Styldrift Project,” according to Capel.
“Acts of intimidation and suppression on community members have also been experienced by the mines security personnel, Bafokeng Reaction Force.”
As all efforts by the community to resolve this issue with the mine to stop the human rights abuses and to stop the use of the police as an intimidation tool have been unsuccessful, the community escalated the matter to the Minister of Mineral Resources, Ms Susan Shabangu. To date the matter has not been resolved by this department nor by the Department of Local Government and Traditional Affairs.
Says Capel: “Our community monitors, Bua Mining Communities, will continue to report on what’s happening in this village. They, together with community members will continue to highlight their plight and make their voices heard.”
“They are appealing to the Police to stop the brutality and the detention of community members and activists without a trial. To allow those detained toapply for bail and to desist from being used by mines to protect its interests ahead of the communities who are they are meant to be protecting.
“The Bench Marks Foundation condemns the brutality that this community is exposed to. We are shocked that such gross human rights violations continue in spite of the efforts community members have taken to try to resolve the conflict,” says Capel.
“The continued abuse of power by the police in Chaneng, amongst other such incidents such as the Marikana Massacre, is eroding public confidence in our police department. Communities are becoming more disgruntled and frustrated by theday. This does not bode well for the future.”
Bua Mining Communities is a collective composed of Ledig, Motlhhabe, Marikana, Ikageng, Chaneng, Photshaneng, Bapong, Thekwane, Phokeng, Lefaragatlhe, Bokamoso, Mogwase, Mmaditlhokwa, Baphiring (Luka) communities. It is supported by theBafokeng Land Buyers Association, the Bench Marks Foundation and Action AidSouth Africa.
For more information on the Community Monitors Project and to follow the various blogs by monitors in Rustenburg, Vaal, Mpumalanga, Klerksdorp, Free State and Ekurhuleni, go to   For more information on the Bench Marks Foundation, go to or contact them on 011 832 1743.



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