Application for leave to intervene - mine residue removal - lack of public participation - Tudor Shaft - South Gauteng High Court

SERI represents the residents of Tudor Shaft informal settlement located in Krugersdorp, who are applying for leave to intervene as co-applicants in an application by the Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE) to interdict a hazardous soil remediation exercise at the central tailings dam at Tudor Shaft. On 29 June 2012, FSE brought an urgent application in the South Gauteng High Court to declare the mine residue removal operations taking place at the central tailings dam in Tudor Shaft unlawful and hazardous to public health. The application requests the Court to direct the National Nuclear Regulator, Mogale City Local Municipality and the other respondents to cease the exercise with immediate effect, pending a risk assessment report or other measures that show that public health will not be adversely affected by the removal operations.

SERI's application argues that the Tudor Shaft residents, who live within 400 metres of the central tailings dam and were not consulted about the operations taking place there, have a direct and substantial interest in the relief sought in the application and should therefore be joined as co-applicants. SERI further argues that the operations should not be permitted to continue unless and until the residents have been fully consulted in relation to the following issues:

  • their occupation of the settlement, the nature and extent of the environmental contaminants existent at the settlement and the health risks related thereto;
  • the necessity, or otherwise, of a relocation from the settlement;
  • the remediation operation, and its consequences for the residents;
  • the process to be adopted in implementing any relocation, including the identities, needs and personal circumstances of those requiring relocation; and
  • the nature and location of the accommodation to which the residents may be relocated, including the provision of basic interim water and sanitation.

Studies conducted at Tudor Shaft in the past have revealed that the residents are already exposed to high concentrations of carcinaogenic materials, including heavy metals and radioactive uranium. Several years ago the residents attempted to engage the municipality regarding access to adequate housing, provision of basic services and the relocation of the residents to a safer environment. Very little came of these efforts.

In terms of the Mogale City Local Municipality's IDP it appears that the Tudor Shaft residents are due for relocation in July 2015. SERI continues to represent the residents.

An interim interdict restraining the remediation exercise was granted. SERI then commissioned a report recommending that the residents be relocated to a safer site.

On the basis of the report, SERI sought the intervention the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements (GDHS), eventually resulting in the construction of 500 “RDP” houses in Kagiso Ext 13. An agreement was reached that the residents who had applied, and who were found to qualify, for RDP homes would be relocated to Kagiso Ext 13, and that a special process would be implemented for the registration of those who had never applied for, or who did not qualify for, RDP homes.

As a result of that process it was found that the need for housing in Tudor Shaft required the construction of 234 further dwellings for those who qualify for RDP housing, to which the GDHS agreed. It was also agreed that approximately 100 people who did not qualify for RDP housing would be given safe, serviced land outside Tudor Shaft.

By the end of 2016, as a result of SERI’s intervention, almost 300 households had relocated from the Tudor Shaft settlement to safe permanent housing in Kagiso Ext 13. Thirty-four of the 234 further dwellings secured in SERI’s negotiations with GDHS had also already been constructed. 

  • Video entitled "Tudor Shaft: As dangerous as Chernobyl?" by the Mail and Guardian (18 June 2013) here.
  • Notice of motion and founding affidavit (27 July 2012) here.