Church in South Africa “concerned with plight” of Mudslide Victims, Urges Reparation

Credit: FS Provincial Government

The Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) is “concerned with the plight” of the victims of the September Jagersfontein mine dam mudslide.

In a note published on Facebook, JPC officials vow to continue fighting for the victims despite allegations that the mine owners are working to compromise the fair restitution of the victims.

“We continue to be concerned with the plight of victims who lost their homes as the result of the collapse of mine tailing dam in Jagersfontein,” JPC officials say in the Wednesday, November 23 note.

The September 11 Jagersfontein mine dam collapse left hundreds of community members homeless and claimed the lives of at least three people. The dam wall is said to have collapsed due to a structural failure.

JPC officials say there are allegations that the tailings mine owners are “exerting pressure on victims to sign a document that would compromise their right to fair reparation.”


Last week, lawyers met with the mayor to discuss this development,” they say, adding that the legal practitioners had previously approached the mine owners seeking to know their plans for rebuilding the houses for the victims.  

The officials of the SACBC entity say that the mine owners “refused to make any commitment before liability issues are concluded.”

JPC officials promise to continue working with the lawyers to “explore a way forward” on behalf of the victims.

The mines should put people before profit. When their operations cause harm to people and the environment, we will make sure they do not sidestep accountability,” they say in the November 23 note.

In an interview with ACI Africa following the mudslide that was reportedly triggered by the collapse of a tailings dam wall, the Parish Priest of Kriste Morena Catholic Church of South Africa’s Bloemfontein Archdiocese said he was facilitating counseling and emotional support to the victims.

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“What the Church has been doing so far is to offer counseling and emotional support. I have been visiting the people who were taken to the local hospital and noticed that many of the victims are traumatized because of what has happened, so I spend time listening to them, praying with them, offering psychological support,” Fr. Michael Mapulanga said during the September 19 interview. 

The Zambian-born member of the Congregation of Missionaries of Africa described the September 11 incident as “devastating”, as those affected by the mudslide “lost absolutely everything”.

Fr. Mapulanga told ACI Africa that the community is grateful for the support from the Catholic Church.

He said that the victims were specifically “very happy” with the September 12 solidarity visit of Archbishop Zolile Peter Mpambani of Bloemfontein Archdiocese, followed by a visit from a delegation from the CJP of SACBC.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.