One up to the environment as High Court opposes Khanyisa coal-fired power station

groundWork’s Robby Mokgalaka formed part of last night’s power hour, unpacking the High Court ruling that refused approval of the Khanyisa power coal-fired station in the Mpumalanga region. groundWork, represented by the Centre for Environment Rights, were front and centre in opposing the coal-fired power station due to environmental challenges in the region. Great to see the environment coming up trumps, for once. – Justin Rowe-Roberts

Robby Mokgalaka on what attracted him to work for groundWork: 

Yes, I studied at UKZN, when it was still called the university of Natal. What attracted me to work as an environmental activist was that I am always inspired in fighting for justice, especially for the underprivileged. I did my articles working for Legal Aid South Africa and this is a place when you work you represent your client, you don’t expect any payment. Your reward or your salary is in fact when you push for justice to be served to the client. So that’s what motivated me.

On why ACWA Power (Saudi Arabian business involved) were wanting to build a coal power station (non-renewable) when they are already invested in solar (renewable) energy plants:

That’s exactly what is baffling us. It is not only about the nature and the operations of the power, it’s also about the proposed place that this plant is going to be. It’s a place that’s been declared by the former minister a national pollution hotspot. That means it’s so polluted that there shouldn’t be any pollution related activities in the area. Plants need to be put in place to reduce pollution as it’s affecting the health of the people in the area.

On who funds the environmental lobby to fight these kinds of cases in court: 

We are part of the ‘Life after Coal Campaign’ of which there are three environmental organisations involved. One if groundWork, the other one is Earthlife Africa and the last one is the Centre for Environmental Rights. Centre for Environmental Rights have lawyers which represent us and they are not charging us – they are of the same belief as us, everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful.

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