An environmental activist from South Africa who opposed the expansion of a coal mine near her home was shot dead in her bed.
In a legal dispute over the expansion of an opencast mine owned by Tendele Coal near Somkhele, near Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, the oldest nature reserve in Africa, Fikile Ntshangase, 65, was involved.
Local police told the Guardian that four men stormed Ntshangase ‘s home in Ophondweni province of KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday at around 6.30 pm and shot her dead.
The murder was witnessed by a 13-year-old boy who is aiding police with their investigation. There were no arrests made.
In a joint statement with local officials, Tendele Coal denounced what it called a “senseless killing” and called for calmness.
The coal mine was the subject of a lengthy legal dispute between the company, conservationists, and some locals who, for economic reasons, are in favor of extending it.
Kirsten Youens, the lawyer for Ntshangase, said her client was a “brave protester” against the mine’s expansion. Ntshangase was a leading member of the Environmental Justice Organisation of the Mfolozi Group.
“Youens said,” She was unbelievably vocal about truth and fairness, having no qualms about calling out people that she thought were devious or untruthful. “Her ethics were not affected by her.
Ever, ever. As her attorney, her reality, her fire, and her courage will be missed. She didn’t deserve her death. We are ravaged by her death.
She said that Ntshangase had recently said, “I can’t sell my people out, and I’m going to die for my people if possible.”
According to lawyers representing the groups, residents near the mine have in recent months been the target of threats of abuse and intimidation. Reportedly, families who declined to be relocated from their ancestral lands were fired at.
In July, a Global Witness report reported that a record number of individuals around the world were killed in 2019 for protecting their land and climate. The number was 212, up almost 30 percent from the 164 in the previous year.