The Battle Against Environmental Degradation Persists

From protecting the environment to ensuring the community of Port Nolloth is well informed about developments of oil and gas exploration – with a particular focus on the negative impacts it has on the environment, through the pollution of water bodies – Tsili Lekheme has been involved in several initiatives that aim to defend the environment.

In late September 2021, the community held a picket in Springbok, outside the offices of the Department of Mineral Resource and Energy, to demonstrate their opposition of the pursuit of oil and gas exploration in the area, without public consultation.

“It is important for community members to know about developments brought by the government or private entities concerning their environment. Furthermore, the extraction of fossil fuels contributes significantly to the climate crisis. As a country we are supposed to reach net zero emissions by 2050, however by being locked into an economy that relies on fossil fuels makes that seem impossible,” says Lekheme, a 2021 Green Connection Legacy graduate.

Tsili Lekheme and community members of Port St Johns and Springbok picket outside Department of Mineral Resource and Energy, for a just energy transition

She says that what makes matters worse is that the community not only faces a problem of oil and gas exploration but are also willfully excluded in decision-making about these projects. 

Lekheme adds, “Municipalities in Port Nolloth may fail to make information available to people with regards to issues regarding developments that will impact our environment. We expect Councilors to make information available to their communities and the public. It should also be a prerequisite that they include environmental rights in their mandate. We need our local politicians to also help in fighting the unsustainable extraction of natural resources.”

A passionate activist, Lekheme urges people (civil society) to stand up and fight for their environmental rights and calls on the Department of Mineral Resource Energy to invest more in renewable energy. “The Green Connection’s Legacy Programme really helped me develop my activism skills. It trained me to be bold and to stand up and fight to protect our oceans and environment from the exploitation of natural resources. This is why we oppose oil and gas exploration,” she concludes.

Port St Johns youth activists advocate against offshore oil and gas

The Green Connection Legacy Programme equips the Green Connectors with advocacy skills to fight for environmental and socio-economic justice through workshops and mentoring, in addition to practical exercises involving their communities and leadership (and corporate) structures. 

Written By: Lisa Makaula and Natasha Adonis

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