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Thousands join Earthlife protesters in march on Eskom

About 1 500 people marched to the Eskom and BHP Billiton offices in Johannesburg on Friday morning to protest against the way in which the companies affected the environment.

The march was organised by Earthlife Africa Johannesburg ahead of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Cop17) conference, which takes place in Durban in November.

Earthlife Africa spokesperson Tristan Taylor said it wanted Eskom to voluntarily step down from South Africa’s negotiating panel at the Cop17.

Eskom is a member of South Africa’s official negotiating team on climate change.

“It doesn’t make sense to have the main polluters sitting on that panel and saying they will solve those problems.”

He said Earthlife Africa wanted BHP Billiton to reveal how much it paid for electricity bought from Eskom.

“We need Nersa [the National Energy Regulator of South Africa] to release that information to us.”

The protesters first went to the offices of BHP Billiton, where they were addressed by Reverend Gift Moerane of the South African Council of Churches.

“We have failed the people of the world by not reminding them that God said the world and all resources in it belong to Him.”

He said the Earth’s resources were meant to sustain life and not to kill it.

The protesters did not hand over memorandums of grievances to the companies, but shouted their demands over loud-hailers.

They accused Eskom of being greedy, and accused it of being responsible for the birth of deformed babies.

Earthlife Africa said it would protest at the Cop17 conference in November if Eskom was still part of the negotiating panel.

“We do not want Eskom negotiating or speaking on our behalf at Cop17,” said Taylor.

The South African delegation for all UN climate change meetings includes representatives of the government, business, civil society, labour and the South African Local Government Association, the department of environmental affairs said on Friday afternoon.

Spokesperson Albie Modise said the panel also had representatives from the South African science community.

“All of these individuals represent the South African government, not their respective organisations,” he said. — Sapa

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