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JULY 2022




On the morning of 20 July, in time to rise with the winter sun, the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) held its second monthly #EnergyPlan4All vigil, outside Parliament. The multi-faith eco-justice organisation recently restarted its vigils to call for the government to act to end the energy crisis and create an effective and affordable energy plan for all who live in South Africa.

According to SAFCEI’s Wayne du Plessis, “SAFCEI first started with the vigils in 2015, about the corrupt R1-trillion nuclear deal with Russia, which would have bankrupted the country. After Earthlife Africa and SAFCEI’s court case was successful in blocking the unconstitutional and illegal deal the vigils were halted. However, poor decisions and weak governance on energy planning and electricity pricing has left South Africa in the dark.  We restarted our vigils to call for ethical and transparent energy governance. With the current state of upheaval in our country, we urge all people of faith to pray for energy planning that works for all.”

According to community and faith leader Lydia Petersen from Mitchell’s Plain, “One of the main reasons that I am back ‘vigiling’ outside Parliament, is to draw attention to our government’s unjust and incomprehensible proposal to extend the life of the Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant, by another 20 years. Firstly, as we face climate change, we need a just transition to sustainable and safe energy sources. This does not include nuclear energy, which is neither renewable nor carbon free, as often claimed. The process to extract and purify uranium, for instance, requires huge amounts of energy, mostly from fossil fuels, thereby contributing to global warming and climate change. It also exposes people to radioactivity and other toxins.”

“I believe that Capetonians, especially those living near the plant, should also be far more concerned about the fact that there is no safe permanent solution for the highly toxic radioactive waste, which are currently stored on-site at Koeberg in underground, concrete pools. According to reports, Koeberg already reached its storage capacity for this poisonous waste two years ago, in 2020, even though Eskom alerted the government, in the mid-1990s, that storage pools for the spent nuclear fuel would soon reach capacity. What will happen to the waste that might still come if the life of the plant is extended?” says Petersen.

Faith leader from Cape Town Unitarians Cele Esau (from Manenberg) says, “I cannot express enough how imperative it is that people from diverse communities come and stand together against nuclear power in South Africa. Not only is nuclear not a renewable energy source, as it does deplete the planet, but nuclear is also one of the more dangerous ways of generating energy because it not only poisons our planet but is also harmful to people. That is why we, as people of faith and local, grassroots communities, ask that people come together and raise awareness of what is happening in our energy sector. We must take responsibility for how we engage with energy issues in our country and hold our decision makers accountable.”

#NuclearFreeSA #EarthKeeper #NuclearFreeSA #JustCleanEnergy #JustTransition #EnergyPlan4All


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