On Oct. 22, four gunmen shot and killed anti-mining activist Fikile Ntshangase in her home in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. The murder points to escalating pressure on communities across South Africa to accept environmentally damaging mining operations on their land. Ntshangase, 65, was a leading member of the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation (MCEJO), which is taking legal action to prevent the expansion of an open-cast coal mine at Somkhele, on the southeastern border of the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi game park. MCEJO also says the mine’s existing operations should be halted because they are not compliant with environmental and other laws. The mine owners, Tendele Coal Mine, say they are operating lawfully, and expansion is necessary to keep the mine viable and protect 1,600 direct jobs and hundreds of indirect jobs in this impoverished part of the country. View of the mine from a nearby homestead. Image by Rob Symons via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) Community impacts The Mpunkyoni tribal area is home to about 158,000 people. Villagers here make their living raising goats and cattle, and growing food for the table. Many also depend on social welfare grants and money sent by family members working in the cities. The mine and the park are the biggest employers in the area, with more than 3,000 full- and part-time workers between them. In Divided We Dance, a 2018 short film directed by Anna Prichard, Somkhele villager Medical Ndzima talks about the many difficulties she has faced since the mine opened in 2007. “Before,…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer