Mariette Liefferink, from the Federation for Sustainable Environment, shares her views on the use of Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) in getting information from the mining sector in South Africa and using that information to try and solve issues affecting the communities near those mines.
In particular, Mariette shares the story of her attempt to get compensation for farmers for the pollution of their water supply by mines operated by Goldfields. Mariette explains how she used PAIA to get a copy of the South Deep Mines Environment Management Programme.
That document showed that the Department of Environmental Affairs had written to Goldfields to say that the water supply was unfit for irrigation, drinking or watering of cattle due to leaks from the mine. When Mariette asked for compensation from Goldfields on behalf of the farmers, Goldfields decided to get their own independent report on the water source. Even though the independent person that prepared the report for Goldfields agreed with the Department of Environmental Affairs regarding the water pollution, Goldfields refused to accept responsibility for pollution of the water. Instead, Goldfields chose to buy the farmers land from them.