The living nightmare of environmental activists who protest mine expansion

Terrified women and children flee their homes every night as fears of being assassinated grip Somkhele in KwaZulu-Natal. 

This terror follows last Thursday’s gunning down of Fikile Ntshangase, 63, who was shot six times and killed inside her home in Ophondweni Village while her 13-year-old grandson played outside with two of his friends, metres away from the gruesome death. 

Place of mourning: The home where environmental activist Fikile Ntshangase was killed last week while children played outside. (Oupa Nkosi/M&G)

There is also an alleged hit list, with the names of staunch anti-mining activists.

Ntshangase was the deputy chairperson of the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation (Mcejo) and was described as a fierce opponent of the expansion of operations by Tendele Coal Mining — the owner of Somkhele mine in the area. 


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Oupa Nkosi
Oupa Nkosi

Oupa Nkosi began taking photos in 1998 with a pawnshop camera, before enrolling at the Market Photography Workshop. He began freelancing after graduating and has since run community projects, won a Bonani Africa award, had his work selected for exhibitions in Zimbabwe and Japan, and been invited to international workshops. He began at the M&G as an intern and is now chief photographer. He also writes features for the paper and lectures at his alma mater.

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