Tuesday, 23 October 2012

groundWork, Earthlife Africa JHB and Greenpeace activists remain in detention for confronting Eskom

Johannesburg, 23 October, 2012 -14 activists from three campaigning organisations are still under custody at Johannesburg’s Sandton police station for confronting South Africa’s energy utility, Eskom. Among those arrested include groundWork’s Bobby Peek [1], Earthlife JHB’s Makoma Lekalakala [2] and Greenpeace’s Melita Steele [3] and Olivia Langhoff.

According to police, ESKOM has laid the following charges against the activists: trespass, intimidation, malicicous damage to property and illegal gathering.

“Our paramount concern is for the welfare of the 14 activists that are under detention. For us, the charge of illegal gathering is a serious contradiction as this refers to a gathering in a public area, according to South African law; and further contradicts the charge of trespass”, said Greenpeace Africa’s executive director, Michael Onyeka-O’brien.

At dawn, Greenpeace activists dropped a banner at Eskom’s Megawatt Park headquarters reading ‘Eskom: Under New Management’. At the same time, activists locked themselves to the front entrance of the building, and the New Management members chained themselves to a table outside the building as part of the protest.

The protest at Megawatt Park comes in the wake of Eskom’s announcement of further electricity price hikes to pay for new coal-fired power stations. With their banner reading “ Eskom under New Management”, the activists were calling on the utlity to listen to all South Africans, and finally put the people of this country first by:

From today, Eskom’s New Management will listen to all South Africans, and finally put the people of this country first by:

·         Ending South Africa’s addiction to coal and investing in renewable energy instead

·         Providing sustainable jobs for South Africa's workforce

·         Averting a water crisis for South Africa

·         Providing affordable and decentralised electricity access for all

·         Making sure that the people of this country do not suffer from the health impacts associated with coal-fired power stations and coal mines

Notes to the Editor:

1.     Bobby Peek is the Director of groundWork, Friends of the Earth South Africa

2.     Makoma Lekalakala is Programmes Officer at Earthlife Africa JHB

3.     Melita Steele is a Climate and Energy campaigner for Greenpeace Africa

4.     Eskom uses 10 000 litres of water per second, the same amount as a single person would use in a year, based on access to the minimum 25 litres of water per day.

5.     Greenpeace has just released a new report entitled ‘Water hungry coal: Burning South Africa’s water to produce electricity’. This report is available online: http://www.greenpeace.org/africa/Global/africa/publications/coal/WaterHungryCoal.pdf.

6.     Follow the action here: www.bit.ly/NewManagement or on @Greenpeaceafric