MAC: Mines and Communities

Anglo's Mailed Fist

Published by MAC on 2006-07-11

Anglo's mailed fist

11th July 2006

Three weeks ago, on June 25 2006, our website published an article entitled "Black Friday at Monday's Corner." It claimed that the world's third biggest mining company, Anglo American plc, through its 74.9% owned subsidiary Anglo Platinum (Angloplat), had wilfully trespassed on land legally owned by black African farming communities at Maandagshoek, in the Bushveldt region of South Africa.

The article was based upon a field trip and interviews by MAC managing editor, Roger Moody in mid-June. He reported that, on June 11, Angloplat had instructed police to remove tribal people objecting to the company's encroachment. These unarmed members had then been fired upon by rubber bullets and a live round of ammunition, resulting in the injury of many, including women.

Much of the article was based on allegations made by the community's lawyer, Richard Spoor. Mr Spoor is a well-known and respected South African attorney, who has already helped secure millions of dollars in damages for victims of asbestos, and recently embarked on preparing silicosis claims against AngloGold Ashanti, another Anglo American subsidiary.

The article was sent to the chairman of Anglo American in London, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart. Other articles in the South African press cited similar allegations. Instead of responding to these, Moody-Stuart and Anglo American have so far ignored them. Then, on July 6th, lawyers acting for Amplat threatened to indict Mr Spoor with a defamation suit - citing these reports, including the MAC article of June 25th.

Richard Spoor has not climbed down in any way (see letter below). Nonetheless he has held out an olive branch:

"Acknowledging past mistakes and misbehaviour is likely to contribute more to a successful outcome and improved relations with neighbouring communities then the patently self-serving expressions of deep hurt and moral outrage that characterise your client’s [Angloplat's] public responses to date.

"...We really cannot see how your client’s aggressive and brutish campaign against indigenous communities and against their legal representative increases shareholder value."

Less than a month before the Maandagshoek shootings, Moody-Stuart was elected chair of a prestigious new foundation to fund the United Nation's Global Compact - the highest profile initiative to improve corporate social accountability by big corporations.

Every day that passes while his company, Anglo American, refuses to "engage" with the Maandagshoek community is a day that the credibility of Mark Moody-Stuart surely continues to plummet .

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