Francina Nkosi chose to live in Lephalale because of the farmland. There was enough space to raise her daughter and as many women as there were men, a rarity in parts of the Limpopo province of South Africa. A year later, in 2007, the Medupi power station set up shop. It brought with it men, lots of them, some carrying HIV, others with wallets full of their living away from home allowance.
Prostitution followed, the town closest to the power station became famous for having the most expensive sex workers in the country. Teenage pregnancy came next. Now there’s two men for every woman in Lephalale. Nkosi worries there is more to come.
In 2011, an Australian company, Resgen, followed the power station into town. Residents claim it promised a school, water and industry, in return for a mine that would eventually produce 6.4 billion tonnes of coal.
This year, Australia will become the biggest international miner on the African continent, doubling its investment to more than $40 billion over a decade, according to the Australia-Africa Minerals & Energy Group.
Resgen is one of more than 140 Australian companies that have landed on African shores, 44 in South Africa alone, documents obtained by tax transparency network Publish What You Pay Australia show. “They built a fence around the cemetery and they are refusing entry to the community,” says Nkosi.