Mining boss found liable for company’s environment damage

Matome Maponya, the managing director of clay-mining company Blue Platinum Ventures, has become the first director in South Africa to be held personally liable for a mining-related environmental offence. 

The director of Blue Platinum, based in Tzaneen in Limpopo, was found guilty of causing environmental degradation outside Batlhabine village, near the town. The company had also not undertaken any of the rehabilitation measures required by both the department of environmental affairs and the department of mineral affairs.

The cost of rehabilitation was estimated by the court at R6.8-million. It gave Maponya a five-year suspended sentence, on condition that the damage was rehabilitated in three months. Maponya and Blue Platinum pleaded guilty to contravening section 24F of the National Environmental Management Act.  

The decisions comes after several years of court action by the community, which laid criminal charges against the mine and its directors, through the Centre for Environmental Rights, which represented the community. 

Melissa Fourie, its executive director, said the lack of a fine was an important element of the decision. "Mr Maponya was not given the option of a fine, and his suspended sentence is directly linked to the damage caused."

This was an important step in ensuring mines had more at stake when it came to complying with environmental legislation. "The time has come for greater accountability for environmental damage in the mining sector, not only by mining companies themselves for the devastating effects of their environmental violations, but also by office-bearers who make the decisions that cause such damage," she said.   

Mashile Phalane, a community representative, said, "We are very happy about the outcome of this case and we will be closely monitoring Mr Maponya's compliance with the court's order to rehabilitate damaged areas."

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Sipho Kings
Sipho Kings is a former acting editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Put the Veuve on ice – the Bold Women Award...

Now in its 50th year, the Veuve Clicquot Bold Women Award is launching in South Africa for the first time.

Massmart will not be profitable as long as it keeps...

Walmart bought Massmart in 2011 and over the past 10 years the share price of the group has decreased by 80%.

Cartoon: Are we back in the 20th century?

Carlos Amato asks if there's one last way we can regress as a species

The problem with Stalingrad is the cost, not the law

The tragedy is that few of us could afford to brief fine lawyers to fight all the way to the highest courts, but we are all paying for what is playing out on stage

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…