Activists freed in South Africa

Feature story - 2 September, 2002
Twelve Greenpeace activists walked free with fines for breaching security at South Africa's only nuclear power plant.

Eleven of the twelve Greenpeace activists outside Atlantis Magistrates Court, where members of the group are on trial after staging a protest on Koeberg Nuclear Power Station.

Six climbers sailed into the harbour of the plant in inflatable boats nine days ago at first light, scaled the pump house building in front of the reactor domes and dropped two banners reading "Nukes Out of Africa".

After a four hour protest all six climbers and six boat crew in the inflatables were arrested.

The Atlantis magistrates court freed them today with fines of SAR4000 for breaching security at South Africa's only nuclear power plant at Koeberg, near Cape Town. The group was also fined a further SAR1000 for failing to declare the true purpose of their visit on visa applications, and for entering an unauthorised harbour.

Mike Townsley was with them in Atlantis and says he is delighted that all the activists are now free to go home, but sad for South Africa that they will leave behind a nuclear facility that can only bring long term pollution and threat to the country.

"Since the protest at Koeberg it has become apparent that the Greenpeace activists are not the only people who have broken the law. The total failure of the plant owners, Eskom, to provide safety, security and evacuation plans should be investigated by the authorities and is yet another reason why this first nuclear facility in Africa should be the last," said Townsley.

The protest was part of our on going campaign during the Earth Summit in Johannesburg, to take action to show the madness of allowing global energy policy to be dictated by the nuclear and fossil industries, when clean and safe alternatives such as solar and wind power are available.

A third of the planet - two billion people - live without access to energy and still we see multi billion dollar subsidies being pumped into the nuclear, oil, coal and gas industries. That money could kick start a renewable energy revolution.

In this critical week for the Earth Summit, world leaders must focus on bringing about that revolution. South Africa can take the led by cancelling plans for any further nuclear power development and putting the resources into clean and safe energy.

The Greenpeace activists left court wearing T-shirts which read "Nukes Out Of Africa". The twelve activists are from Argentina, Australia, Spain, the Netherlands, Mexico, Lebanon, UK, New Zealand and Canada.