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Amnesty International condemns excessive use of force on Xolobeni residents

Last week, a community meeting in Xolobeni resulted in residents being tear gassed and allegedly manhandled by police.

Xolobeni Mineral Sands Project on South Africa's east coast. Picture: mineralcommodities.com

CAPE TOWN - The Amadiba Crises Committee has welcomed Amnesty International’s calls to investigate claims that police used excessive force at a community meeting with local government and the mineral resources department.

Last week, a community meeting in Xolobeni resulted in residents being tear gassed and allegedly manhandled by police.

It’s understood the attorney representing residents, Richard Spoor, was also arrested during that altercation.

Spoor is representing 70 families in the municipality who are opposed to an Australian company mining in the area.

He says while the meeting was supposed to involve the residents who would be affected should the mining licence be granted, community members from surrounding areas were bused into the meeting while the legitimate residents were ultimately removed by police.

In a statement, Amnesty International condemned the excessive use of force by police, adding that it had received witness testimonies, video footage and photos indicating that police used tear gas, stun grenades and death threats to disperse protesting residents.

Nonhle Mbuthuna was one of the residents allegedly man handled and sprayed with tear gas.

She says residents were wrongfully treated.

“We are not beating anybody. We are not destroying anything. We are not burning tyres. The only we were doing on Sunday is just asking the minister [of mineral resources, Gwede Mantashe] to give us an ear, just to listen to us. Now they used police to push us out from the tent and they tear gassed some of us.”