Development and growth (Somkhele Community)
Establishment of the Somkhele anthracite mine followed
extensive consultation and negotiation with the
Mpukunyoni community. Right from the beginning, one of
the key aims was to ensure local employment, community
benefits and good communication. This has been a guiding
principle for Tendele.
Its relationship with the community has not been without
challenges and occasional tensions, but these are resolved
through discussion and agreed complaint procedures.
And despite the challenges, the Tendele mine has
remarkably strong ties with the communities surrounding
it, and the villages of Machibini, Dubelenkunzi, Luhlanga
Community projects, direct and indirect employment
created by the mine, and associated social benefits, have
transformed the Mpukunyoni area.
The mine helped people to relocate and replace traditional
mud houses with bricks and mortar homes, with water,
sewage and electricity, as well as community gardens and
Some had homes built by the mine, while others built their
own homes, and each family that moved was given the
opportunity for one person to be employed on the mine.
Tendele built the Siphelele Primary School in Luhlanga,
and a soccer field. A large community hall was built in
each area, for weddings, meetings, church services and
community events. In Machibini, the hall has served as
a voting station, and hosted Home Affairs registrations,
school plays and fundraising events, and Easter and
Cattle are of great importance to the Somkhele
community. Tendele enabled community dip tanks to
be built by local businesses, under guidance from the
Department of Agriculture, and supplies them with water.
Community roads and bridges have been built, using
specifications from the Department of Transport.
Access to water is a development challenge in the
Somkhele area. Tendele has provided water to 16 water
collection points in the Mpukunyoni area, and repaired six broken boreholes and fitted hand pumps. It has built
new dams and upgraded old dams, some with adjacent
vegetable gardens, using local business as suppliers.
Tendele integrates emerging businesses into its own
supply chain as suppliers and contractors. In the last year
alone, this resulted in an economic injection of more
than R56 million into the Mpukunyoni area. The local
business association and several small start-ups are among
Tendele’s local suppliers.
Work Tendele has sourced from local businesses includes
road construction, building a local primary school, sewage
removal at the Tendele Edu-Centre, crèche maintenance,
tent hire and grave relocation.
In 2005, Primrose Myeza took a job at a construction
company as a clerk. She had wanted to be a nurse,
but the new work was near her home in Machibini. It
was the start of a ten-year journey that transformed
Primrose into a senior foreman at the Somkhele
Tendele senior plant foreman
The construction company was Leomat, responsible
for earth-moving at the mine. Primrose was taken to
Springlake Colliery in Dundee, where she learned about
mining, processing and anthracite.
By 2007, she was back at Somkhele for the last phase
of her training. “I was learning something new every
day, racking up experience, looking for opportunities,”
she remembers. She got to know the processes and
machinery at the heart of the mine.
Her persistence and curiosity paid off, and she was the
first to be selected for training in the control room. In
2011, another training opportunity took her to the
Colliery Training College (CTC) in Witbank to complete
a certificate in metallurgy and train as a supervisor.
“I learnt what it means to be responsible for the safety
of the people in your team,” she says. “As a supervisor,
you become a teacher to other people.”
In June 2015, Primrose’s hard work paid off and she was
appointed as the senior foreman for Somkhele Plant 2,
responsible for all shifts, with four supervisors reporting
to her, and the whole plant under her command.
In 2016, Primrose will enrol at the University of South
Africa (Unisa) to study production management
through one of Tendele’s in-house bursaries.
PASSION FOR THE LAND
Thobile Mdlalda, a 22-year-old agricultural graduate from Empangeni, started at Somkhele as an
intern in the community department. Passionate about the impact that the Agricultural Hub can
make in the community, Thobile follows up with the hundreds of households that were trained in crop
production. The team is negotiating with local grocers to supply crops, and Thobile keeps a close eye
on what can be supplied, what crops are most successful in the area, and what the Agricultural Hub
should grow to keep a steady supply when community gardens are under pressure from drought.
|ON-SITE TRAINING AND ABET CENTRE
The training centre at Tendele mine runs classes for mine employees and community members, offering adult basic education and training (ABET) programs and skills analysis for employees hoping to improve their careers.
ON-SITE TRAINING AND ABET CENTRE
The training centre at Tendele mine runs classes for both
mine employees and community members, offering adult
basic education and training (ABET) programs and skills
analysis for people hoping to improve their careers.
ABET focuses on numeracy and literature. Classes run from
ABET level 1 to level 4, and exams are written through the
Independent Examination Board (IEB).
With an ABET 4 qualification, learners can enter technical
vocational education. Learners who complete ABET
level 3 can progress to N1, N2 and N3 courses through
the Umfolozi FET hosted at the Tendele Edu-Centre.
Alternatively, they’re offered entrepreneurial training or
funding for Code 14 driver training.
Student retention is high, and the training team proactively
recruit unemployed youth from the Mpukunyoni area for
education and training.
The centre started with a class of seven mine employees
who had never been to school, and today teaches both
employees and community members. Tendele employees
have gone from being cleaners to samplers, security guards
to plant operators, and some have been given bursaries by
the mine to get drivers licences.
Today, more than 600 Tendele employees and community
members have gone through Tendele’s ABET programme.
JOBS AND OPPORTUNITIES
Somkhele mine has been creating jobs and opportunities
for more than ten years. Today the mine offers more than
900 jobs, more than 80% of them for local people.
When jobs are not available for all who seek them, Tendele
helps to create other opportunities. It has helped people
to develop a crèche and attend adult education, funded
baking and driving training, and helped people to secure
work in other parts of the local economy.
|FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Ntombinkosi Biyase started her garden in March 2015 on a large piece of land, and has already sold up to R1000 of crops in a month.
Her biggest seller is sweet potato, which she sells at R60 for a five litre bucket, and plants in stages so that there will always be
stock. Her large vegetable patch has the potential to generate a steady income for her household, and she’s eager to attend the next
Agricultural Hub training session to learn more about conserving water and planting different crops.
||Nyansile Chonco, the 27 year old teacher at the Khulugqame
crèche in Esiyembeni, remembers the old building. “It was
horrible,” she says. “There was no floor, just sand. We didn’t
have doors, and the roof was loose in so many places that
the noise from the wind made it impossible to teach.”
CREATING THE RIGHT PROJECTS
The Department of Mineral Resources requires mines
to conduct baseline needs analyses before establishing
community projects, to ensure that they are appropriate
and the community is engaged from the beginning.
In 2012, Tendele employed local youth to help conduct
a community needs survey. It was informed by the
Mtubatuba municipality’s challenges and aligned to its
Tendele’s local economic development projects, as well as
infrastructure and poverty alleviation initiatives, were then
designed to meet these needs. Among them were:
||Unemployed youth and women
||A low level of education
||Lack of skills development
||Underdeveloped SMME economy
|Phumezitheni Ngubane, an Mpukunyoni local, came
to the Somkhele mine in 2014 aged 37 and hoping
for work. He had only a few years of primary school
education. When work on the mine was not available,
he enrolled to study at Tendele’s ABET training
centre. By 2015, he’d completed ABET level 3, and is
currently doing a carpentry training course. “Even if I
don’t get work on the mine, I’ll keep studying. It’s my
key to the world, and it’s how I’ll feed my children,”
he says. “I would not have had these opportunities in
Gauteng. The mine has unlocked the world for me."
The Tendele Edu-Centre was set up in 2013 by Tendele,
the traditional council and the municipality. The Centre
was refurbished and fitted with computers and an internet
connection, which is free to use. Telecoms company MTN
donated an additional 20 computers.
The Edu-Centre offers maths, science and English to
local students through a self-guided computer learning
programme. Four local schools adopted by Tendele use
the centre for extra classes, and mine employees and
community members use the computer centre to study
through institutions like Unisa.
The Tendele maths and science programme has teachers
and ambassadors from nine schools come through the
centre on rotation to improve maths, chemistry, physics
and biology skills.
The Edu-Centre also offers ABET courses to students from
as far away as St Lucia on the KZN coast.
Between January and June 2015, more than 200 people
used the computer centres alone, and 310 students are
registered in the Tendele Maths and Science programme.
The Umfolozi FET College offers N-courses through the
Tendele Edu-Centre to matric students with maths and
science, or ABET level 3 graduates. Two full time lecturers
are based at the centre, and currently teach 74 mechanical
engineering students. Ten of Tendele’s ABET students
have progressed to this level, and more than 200 students
have taken the Umfolozi N-courses in total. Many more
want to enrol. The National Skills Fund supports most of
the students, and ten successful N3 graduates have been
given three-year apprenticeships through a collaboration
between the mine and Umfolozi College.
Up to five students a year qualify for these apprenticeships
at the mine, with Tendele funding their transport to
Umfolozi, and the college providing monthly allowances.
Tendele is addressing local education gaps not just for
adults but also for the youngest community members. Its
crèche development programme at the Tendele Edu-Centre
evaluates teachers and their crèches, and provides training
where necessary. In 2014, working with the traditional
council, it identified seven local crèches in need of support
and refurbishments. Buildings were repaired, jungle gyms
installed and educational toys and books donated. In the
future, teachers at each crèche will receive training through
the Tendele Edu-Centre.
SIPHELELE PRIMARY SCHOOL
The Siphelele Primary School in Luhlanga was built
by Tendele, and opened its doors to more than 180
community children in August 2015.
“We are incredibly grateful,” says Principal Penny Nxumalo,
a passionate maths and technology teacher. “It was a
challenge getting here. When the school wasn’t ready,
the mine supplied us with eight container classrooms and
a kitchen so that we could still teach. Now we are in full
swing, and the community is very proud of its school.”
Tendele also supports several local schools by supplying
teachers and access to the Edu-Centre. These trained
teachers assist with maths, science and English classes,
as well as extra-curricular programmes. Teach SA, a
local NGO, partners with Tendele and identifies young
university graduates in science who want to contribute
to society through teaching, and after training they place
them in schools that need them most.
The school has had innovative education programmes,
including a spelling competition, storytelling day, a debate
about xenophobia and drama productions.
A large playground was also built on site by the mine, and
friendly netball and soccer matches have already been
The school employs six teachers, and up to 400 children
can be accommodated, leaving room for growth.
The Agricultural Hub is being integrated into the
community and providing programmes including enterprise
and skills development. It will serve as a business hub
where small local businesses can sell products, and a
manufacturing centre with space to work on traditional
beadwork, mats, pottery, and Nguni hides.
|Mildred Smangalisile Mkwanaze is a fifty year old farmer
in Mpukunyoni who received her training from the Tendele
Agricultural Hub. She diligently prepares her trenches every
year, adding bones, grass, tins and cow dung to improve the
soil. She was one of the first to be trained by the hub, and is
one of the most successful. “Even when everyone’s gardens
died because of water shortages, mine kept producing
vegetables,” she says. Mkwanaze owns a large piece of land
and her bountiful garden already supplies nearly 50 people
with carrots, spinach, onions and beans.
It will provide communities with outlets for their crops and
serve as a centre for community events. The aim is for the
Agricultural Hub to become part of a tourist route that
links St Lucia and the Hluhluwe and Imfolozi game reserves.
Crop-training programmes linked to the Edu-Centre have
already begun, and households are being trained to harvest
rainwater and enhance their own crop production.
Tendele has trained more than 600 households in organic crop-farming, with methods specific to the water-scarce
area. Each household feeds about 10 people, and having
vegetable gardens takes a financial burden off the families.
Small scale farmers linked with the Agricultural Hub will
have their produce picked up by Tendele and sold either
in the Hub itself or to local grocers, a relationship which
The Agricultural Hub itself is installing trenches and
tunnels to grow its own crops, with water supplied by a
system that collects and conserves water in underground
tanks, and distributes it by a hand pump.
Also planned for the Agricultural Hub are an admin block,
in-house market, kiosk and conference room.
SOMKHELE MATERNITY WARD
The Somkhele clinic, the first medical port of call for mine
employees and surrounding villages, asked Tendele to
build a maternity ward for local women. Tendele agreed to
construct a ward and the Department of Health will equip
it with technology and personnel.
LEVELLING THE PLAYING FIELD
Tendele projects include many sports initiatives.
It upgraded community sports fields in Machibini,
Dubelenkunzi and KwaMyeki, levelling the fields and
putting up goal posts. The fields, which can also be used for
netball, have enabled volunteers to establish a local league.
Tendele donated eight soccer kits, and the area has been
accepted as a feeder for bigger leagues.
“We’re now part of the local football association (LFA),”
says Temba Masango, a 32-year-old police officer from
the area who runs the league in his spare time. Masango
has since founded the Future Stars Academy to train
talented players. Tendele recently paid for transport and
accommodation for him and two local players to travel to
Bloemfontein for trials. The Future Stars Academy has 105
kids in training with volunteer coaches.
|PLAYING FOR CHANGE
Eight local football teams now have kits in which to compete in the newly created local tournament. Coaches Sihle Nkwanyana and Khulekani Mbanjwa donate their time. Several players have gone to league events, where they impressed trainers, motivating them to work towards a possible sporting career.
Twenty taxis owned by local entrepreneurs have a
contract to transport Somkhele mine employees to
and from work. Taxi owners and mine management
formed the Tendele taxi committee, to handle
challenges or disputes.
Small opportunities like these lead to bigger things,
explains Mandla Zulu, taxi owner and deputy
chairperson of the committee. “The opportunity
given to me by Tendele is helping me save up for
my own dream – to own a plant hire company. The
experience we’re building up qualifies us for future
loans, and gives us a credible business history.”
“We’re the first taxi industry to work with the mine.
Losing the mine would be a massive loss for the
community, so this is an important relationship.”
FROM DRIVER TO BUSINESS OWNER
Melusi Siyaya began his career as a contract
supervisor for his brother’s construction company
in Nquthu, more than three hours from his home
in Somkhele. In 2011, Siyaya came home when he
heard about new opportunities in Mpukunyoni as
a result of the Somkhele mine. In 2012 he got a
job with mining contractor Sandton Plant Hire as a
Code 14 driver. Then he started his own business,
bought three second hand trucks, and won a tender
to move earth for Tendele. Today he keeps winning
work on the mine, is expanding his fleet, and also
has vehicles working on government projects.
MPUKUNYONI BUSINESS ASSOCIATION (MBA)
In 2006, a group of business owners in the Mpukunyoni area approached the traditional council with an idea to share
work opportunities and benefit local entrepreneurs. The Mpukunyoni Business Association was formed to link small
businesses to the Tendele mine, and local opportunities were created, ranging from civil engineering and construction to
security, plant hire, tourism, skills training and IT.
More than fifty companies are currently registered with the MBA. Its chairman, Eric Sokhulu, says roughly 120 people are
working in and around the mine through the association.
Transport for the mine is the most popular work. MBA businesses are currently responsible for loading and hauling
anthracite between Tendele and the Richards Bay port.
“What we’d like to do next is to incubate small businesses, share knowledge and help them grow,” says Sokhulu. The
MBA is also involved in local sports sponsorships, gives donations to schools and advises young entrepreneurs.