Poor Moshaneng village further battered by illegal asbestos mining and land grabs

GP Weekly Reporter

Moshaneng’s Kgosi Seate Marumo oversees a village of mostly underprivileged dwellers and unemployed youth, amid this are ‘investors’ coming with ‘fat promises’ of developing the village and livelihood of the place situated 17 kilometers from Kanye and 100 kilometers from the capital, Gaborone.

Moshaneng is known for Moshaneng Quarry which has never reached its potential ever since its inception. Even the area MP Thapelo Letsholo asked Parliament about the progress of the mining site and its business. Fresh investigations have revealed that the quarry has been taken by an Asian businessman with a company called Conduit Investment who took it from Pioneer Quarries from Australia. 

No one knows how the quarry plant has been awarded to Conduit and there is no much information on how he got the mining rights and everything. He is also mining the banned asbestos rock which is harmful to the environment, humans and animals, according to our investigations. Furthermore the miner is extending the mining site towards the village dam and it is not clear where he got the permission to do so. 

It appears Letsholo was misled when asking about the quarry in 2019, just a month after the general elections. Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Lefoko Moagi did not mention Conduit as the current owner in 2019 when he said the quarry has been under four hands. What was true, however, is the diminishing of business and workforce for a site that was supposed to benefit the village in terms of employment. Moagi said the workforce has been 53 in 2019 and was 13 ten years when he was answering Letsholo’s question. Our investigations show the workforce has reduced to less than 10 under Conduit Investments. 

Moagi revealed in Parliament that in 2018 the mine was suspended to avoid interaction with asbestos which was on the same quarry ground. However this is far from the truth as our investigations shows the Asian businessman is mining the avoided asbestos as we write.  

These are the things that prompted a youth pressure group to demand answers from the village leadership. Thabang Thubanyane narrated everything to GP Weekly from the time when a Debswana imposter tried to grab land on the guises of being a representative for the mining giant. The man said Debswana has discovered Moshaneneng as a village to host its employers with regard to accommodation and he was given a large chunk of land with approval of the village leadership. Further investigations revealed who he is to villagers and he was immediately evicted. 

“We have been having unanswered questions for years about such things and the leadership either turns a blind eye or our cry  about misappropriate things in our village falls on deaf ears,” said Thubanyane. 

Thubanyane have been questioning about the village leadership and the village development council possible collusion with so called investors or anything under the guises of developing them or the village. They even reached Kgosi Marumo in letters seen by this publication. Letters dated back to 2020 where the youth summoned their chief to a meeting were futile. 

There was also illegal gravel mining which led to some in the village to raise an alarm and involve department of mining. “We just saw people mining gravel and did not know where they come from. Even the people who are currently mining asbestos, we do not know where they are coming from,” said a VDC member on condition of anonymity. 

For Thubanyane and other youth, it seems their grievances are not going anywhere, if at all they are currently being exacerbated. The iconic football playing ground in the village has been given away and there is currently construction works on the place. It is alleged that the village leadership promised to move the grounds from the, but it is not with consultation. A lot of things are done without consultation, said complainants. 

In an interview with Kgosi Marumo, he told this publication that even the leadership in Kanye can attest that he has met with the youth. For the playing field he said the villagers were addressed and no one can issue a certificate for the said plot hence it being used for village development. 

Marumo does not know anything about the business of the quarry mine, what it mines and who the miners are. “However last year the company which mines the quarry promised to give the village development council a share from its proceeds. I am not sure whether they shared anything so far, you can ask the VDC leadership,” said Marumo. 

Marumo referred all the land issues to Land Board. The Land Board under the area was not committal in the things affecting land and mining rights. Efforts to contact the department of mining looked far-fetched before press time as they sent us from pillar to post.

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