Fracking the Drakensburg & Sacred Waters

We have been a little quiet with newsletters in recent weeks, we hope everyone is well…

Africa Shaman Experience has been gathering its energies for building in the Drakensburg, although the heavy rainfall that has hit KwaZulu-Natal has not helped in the process. The ground is pretty water logged which means we have to take extra care in the basic foundations of structures.

While we have been exploring the area that will be our home, it has come to our attention from various sources that the Drakensburg in its entirety is under threat from Fracking. So far it is the Karoo that has been highlighted and emphasised in South Africa as they started exploratory work.

As Sangomas this deeply disturbs us as all waters are considered sacred, connected to the ancestors and some particular sites especially so…

SA had a moratorium on fracking. This ended in August 2012 and the minister said that the moratorium would continue for another six months. Suddenly, one and a half months later, the cabinet lifted the moratorium on applications for ‘prospecting permits’ which allow for the drilling of test boreholes to test viability. Why? How were they convinced and

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by whom? So now the gas companies will be flying all over the country side to identify possible sites.

We have been informed that some companies have already sent out people to the local chiefs, Kings and tribal authorities in the Drakensburg to convince them that fracking is good for the people and will create jobs. Yet most of the rural communities do not know what fracking actually involves, to be able to make an informed decision.

The problem is that once these sites have been earmarked, there is only one way to test if there is gas or to estimate viability and that is to build a well – and frack! If viable, they will then apply for a permit to frack. As Fracking is part of Trevor Manuals National Development Plan, the outcome of the applications seems to be already heading in one direction.

The Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG) website or email Karen Rademeyer at are involved in the process of informing and gathering information for action, all over South Africa, including for the Drakensburg.

Here are some points to think about and share with anyone you feel would benefit from the information;

Potential threats are to our water – fracking uses numerous toxic chemicals mixed with sand and water that is blasted up to 6 kilometres deep and as far away as 6 kilometres horizontally as a way of fracturing the layers of shale rock and releasing the gasses. The type of rock on the surface of the land does not indicate whether there are shale deposits deeper underground.

Arsenic, chlorides, Radon, Radium, Uranium (radio-active material) diesel oil and benzene are some of the ingredients in the mix. These are either left behind underground to filter into our ground water and water courses, may enter aquifers if these are drilled through (contaminated borehole water) or are pumped into slimes dams on the surface.

The Drakensburg is an area that holds the source waters to most of the major rivers of KwaZulu-Natal; this is one of the reasons it became a protected area and world heritage site.

Pictured; the Bushman’s river running from the Drakensburg.
Potential threats to water quantity
– fracking uses vast amounts of water : 1 well pad covers 20 hectares and comprises 32 wells, each of which uses enough water to fill 12,800 swimming pools (20 million litres of water – that’s 640 million litres of water per well pad).

To put this into perspective: in Kwa Zulu Natal authorities are scrambling to stretch our water resources. Separate (and costly) measures include the construction of one or two dams on each of the Tugela and Umkomaas rivers; desalination; water reuse; stopping all leaks etc etc – and these measures will only guarantee water security for us till 2030. Currently the uMngeni River supplies 1,000 million litres of water per day to the Midlands and Durban, so each well pad will use up the equivalent of just over a days supply of water to the above mentioned areas, and there will be thousands of well pads.
Oil companies offer jobs; yet in the USA, 400 wells employ only 66 staff. Wells are monitored by satellite from a distance, and a small crew of highly trained staff travel from one well to the next. Boasts made by oil companies in the USA of 43,000 jobs with a revenue of $7 billion in fact turned out to be only 17,000 jobs and #3.1 billion. We could create 145,000 jobs from sustainable energy if we rather went that route.

Department of Water Affairs (DWA) currently has a massive document out in SA for public comment – the draft Water Resources Strategy. Yet this same department, who are the custodians of our countries water resources, arent able to comment on or object to fracking as this is not in line

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with ‘co-operative governance’, and the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) are the top dogs, what they say happens, and DWA and the Department of Environmental Affairs arent able to get involved in any debate or objection! Although technically, an Environmental Impact process would have to be undertaken (including public participation) with DMR.

Sincere thanks to Penny Rees for the above facts; please contact Penny Rees if you would like to read a copy of the Water Resources Strategy…

Less than a year after COP 17 in Durban, the SA Petroleum Exploration & Production map indicates over 50 companies each with delegated areas all over South Africa to explore various types of mining. The company licenced to explore KZN Natal , Chesapeake has been implicated in Methane gas in three residential water wells in Pensylvania, USA. Read more about it on :

This is something that deeply affects us all; the Drakensburg is one of the most well-known and well visited areas in South Africa from the locals to people overseas. It also holds some of our greatest cultural treasures and wisdoms, indigenous communities, natural untouched wilderness areas, sacred sites and of course… our sacred waters.

As Sangomas we need to stand up and make some noise, and we are asking all of you that also love this dear mother earth and her sacred waters which are the essence of life in all ways, to make some noise where you can too… This is a ‘world heritage site’, which means it is globally inherited by all.

Even if at this stage, this is only by sharing as much of this information as possible, word will get out and we all know how that affects the world we live in today…
We Thank you – Siyabonga

For anyone wanting to learn more about Rituals, Sacred Sites, African tradition, African Shamanism and their personal relationship with their ancestors and how to work with them; the mentorship correspondence course is for you…

“A cow does not know what her tail is worth until she has lost it.” – Sao Tome and Principe/African Proverb

For anyone wanting further guidance or a personal reading and consultation with a Sangoma;

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