Karoo advocacy group in gear for government consultations

Public consultation and participation around fracking is just one of the facets in which the SA Government has failed its citizens. Treasure Karoo Action Group is continually on top of this vital issue.

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Fracking under attack in Colorado

Jimmy Manyi hosts TKAG CEO on fracking

Mr. Jimmy Manyi, grilled TKAG CEO Jonathan Deal in a probing interview this week. The interview will air on September 14th, Saturday at 15h30. True to form, Mr. Manyi gave effect to the show’s strapline : ‘Straight Talk, the show where ‘no comment’ is not an option.


Jimmy Manyi: Gupta TV’s Oprah



Former government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi has traded in the whirligig of state spin for an anchored spot on ANN7.

Jimmy Manyi returns to South African TV screens as an anchor for new channel ANN7.(Delwyn Verasamy)

The owners of Africa News Network 7 (ANN7) or “Gupta TV”, clearly have a lot of faith in former government spin doctor, Jimmy Manyi.

Not only did they headhunt him to anchor their weekly interview show, Straight Talk, they’re also putting him up against the likes of Chiefs, Pirates, the Boks, the Williams sisters and Tiger Woods.

The show is scheduled to go out every Saturday afternoon at 3.30pm on DStv channel 405 — when other channels have their premier sport offerings.

ANN7, an initiative of Infinity Media — a joint venture between India’s Essel Media and Oakbay Investments, which is owned by the influential and controversial Gupta family — was launched at a glitzy gala dinner at the Sandton Convention Centre on August 22.

Grand event
The event featured performances by Zulu dancers, singer Zahara and new rapper on the block Kwesta — whose spirited performance seemed slightly incongruent to the grand and formal setting of the launch venue.

South Africa’s new communications minister, Yunus Carrim, delivered the keynote speech and launched the channel with ANN7 editor in chief, Moegsien Williams.

Other guests included former minister in the presidency and current editor of The Thinker magazine, Essop Pahad; ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu; and the Indian high commissioner, Virendra Gupta.

No sensationalism
Manyi, looking dapper in a tailored black suit, worked the room at the ANN7 launch, and spoke candidly to the Mail & Guardian about his new career.

“I was headhunted,” he says matter-of-factly.

“They were looking for someone fresh and bold who is able to deal with different and difficult issues.”

He adds that the show’s name is modelled on his character.

“You get it how it is. With me it’s black or white, right or wrong. I’m genuine; when I smile I’m sincere and not buying face.”

And don’t expect sensationalism on his show, warns Manyi, who says Straight Talk will draw from Oprah Winfrey and Larry King’s styles.

“I’ve never seen them [Oprah and King] covering the superficial and sensational side. They get to the substance of the issue and that’s what I aim to do. There are enough shows on the market for those who want sensationalism,” Manyi says.

Some may argue that Manyi was “headhunted” purely because he is such a controversial figure.

The 49-year-old ruffled some feathers last year when he told motorists e-tolls in Gauteng are a reality.

“It’s a fact of life and it’s going to happen,” he said.

But Manyi was more notoriously known for a statement he made during his tenure as director general of labour in 2010 — about there being an oversupply of coloured people in the Western Cape.

In response to a question pertaining to his controversial statement and life thereafter, Manyi said: “If such a honourable man such as Jesus Christ, who brought good news and salvation, was harmed very viciously on the cross, who am I?

“I apologised because people got hurt by that statement. However, I was grossly misrepresented and I must voice my disappointment towards academics and analysts who formed their opinions on a 30-second clip and didn’t bother to take the time to listen to the whole clip.

“I lost all respect for these so-called experts and their inability to make an informed decision shows the shallowness we have in this country.”


Shell SA Chairman on Al Jazeera “… never been a single case of water contamination as a direct result of Shell’s activity.”

verbatim quote #3 on Al Jazeera – North to South – from Shell SA Chairman and Vice President, Mr. Bonang Mohale.

“that is why up until now there has never been a single case of a well collapse and by definition  never been a single case of water contamination as a direct result of Shell’s activity.”


This well known case is still denied by Shell executives in South Africa. At the time of a visit in 2013 to the US, by Jonathan Deal, The Gee family no longer lived in this home – which was unoccupied.

Let’s journey (via the internet) to Tioga County, Pennsylvania. 

Alarm bells sound for Karoo residents after US farmer’s water supply ruined

Sep 27 2011

DESPITE assurances by Shell that fracking in the Karoo will not affect the region’s water supply, shocking details have emerged in the United States of how shale drilling by the giant petroleum company has wiped out a farm’s pristine water supply.

An investigation by The Herald has revealed that the spring water supply on a small farm in Pennsylvania, once the pride of the state, is now unfit for human consumption, and the farmer and his family must now drink from supplies trucked in by Shell.

Owned by Jerry and Denise Gee, the water on the farm near Wellsboro in Tioga County bursts into flames when lit with a match, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has found Shell responsible for the migration of methane into the supply aquifer.

Although this case has been unfolding in the US for the past year, Shell South Africa’s Jan Willem Eggink said in Port Elizabeth last month that shale gas extraction drilling was safe, and that they were unaware of any case anywhere around the world where a Shell operation of this kind had been implicated in water pollution. One of the key issues in the US case is that the groundwater supply was contaminated before controversial hydraulic rock fracturing (fracking) even began.

Jeremiah Gee, 34, the Gees’ son, who is a PhD student at Penn State University but still lives on the family farm, said that while Shell had not been able to explain how this could have happened, the company’s own tests had revealed there were naturally occurring fissures running directly from its well pad adjacent to the farm, down to the spring and a large natural pond.

“It appears that the gas was disturbed either by the initial sinking of the shaft or by the perforating procedure. It then migrated up and along these fissures and into our water.”

Gee said the farm had been in the family for four generations, and the water in the pond had been “so good municipalities would pay to have it”.

Pre-drilling tests were done on this water by the fracking company East Resources, before it established itself on an adjoining property less than 100m above the pond. East Resources was then bought out by Shell. These quality tests clearly showed no presence of methane in the Gees’ water.

The trouble started last year with a diesel spill from the well pad which ran down into the pond. Then, in March, Shell constructed an additional pad, with no added erosion controls. “Spring came, the snow melted and washed tons of sediment into the pond.

“A test by the Pennsylvania DEP showed a dip in the water quality. There was a die-off of salamanders, fish and frogs.”

This situation had been left improperly addressed for months, despite a notice of violation sent by the DEP to Shell, he said.

At the same time, the taps inside the house had begun to splutter. The water coming out turned a milky colour and fizzed with bubbles. On April 6 this year the Gees were able for the first time to set this water on fire, revealing what they already suspected: it was full of gas.

In a May 20 letter to Shell, a copy of which is in The Herald’s possession, the DEP said the company had violated the Oil and Gas Act through its “failure to prevent the migration of gas or other fluids into sources of fresh water”.

“Our investigation revealed Shell has caused or allowed gas from lower formations to enter fresh groundwater.”

The department then wrote to the Gees, noting that “evidence such as isotopic data [chemical DNA] indicates one or more of the gas wells on Shell’s nearby well pad are the likely source of this methane… Our conclusion is that your water supply has been affected by gas drilling.”

Little life is left in the Gees’ pond. Most recently it has been “cross-contaminated” by bacteria introduced, as Shell has admitted, by equipment it has used to monitor not only the adjacent well but also others.

“Shell has given us a report that says the fracking fluid could follow the same route into our water as the methane has done,” Gee noted.

Shell has in the meanwhile been working on finding and closing off the gas migration route from the well pad.

This does not seem to be working, however, as the DEP took another water sample at the beginning of this month and the methane content was even higher than before this work started, he noted.

The department has so far, however, taken no further action against Shell.

Gee said while his family did not want to attack Shell unreasonably, “people around the world, including your residents in the Karoo, need to know the inherent dangers of shale gas drilling and that, once the damage has happened, their promises may mean nothing, and you may be left with the mess”.

The damage cannot be reversed. Our peace is gone, our privacy is gone, our summer is gone. The way you live your life changes forever when you must rely on a global corporation to restore your property and bring water to your family. There is no end in sight.


“Before South Africa agrees to exploratory or experimental drilling, it should understand how dangerous it is for agriculture, for ecology, and for public health and safety.”

Graaff-Reinet lawyer Derek Light, who is representing more than 200 farmers and other parties opposing Shell’s Karoo fracking plans, said yesterday the Gee case was directly pertinent for what was being proposed by Shell in South Africa.

“This is first-hand experience of exactly the scenario that faces South Africa if the Shell applications here are approved.”

He said the groundwater contamination danger was multiplied in the Karoo because of the reliance of the residents on groundwater, and the complete lack of knowledge on just how far the aquifers and the underground fracture complex extended, and how the different parts connected.

Responding to questions, Shell SA spokesman Kim Bye Bruun said Shell had been notified in April of “the presence of methane in a water well…. north-east of Wellsboro”, and it immediately investigated.

“The investigation included sampling the home-owners’ water well and water wells in the surrounding area,” he said.

“Shell also inspected and sampled each of the gas wells on its well pad.

“To date, although there are some similarities, there is no conclusive link between the methane found in the water well and Shell’s operations.

“Shell is working together with the home-owners in question, and the DEP, and is continuing to investigate by conducting additional analysis of the gas sample,” he said.

Shell has furthermore, “as a precautionary measure” disconnected the groundwater supply from the Gees’ home and is supplying the family with alternative potable water, he said.

Asked about the statement in Port Elizabeth last month by Shell SA’s Jan Willem Eggink that he was not aware of any shale gas drilling contamination of ground water anywhere in the word – Bruun said Eggink had been referring to hydraulic fracturing in particular, and the well in question has not been fracked yet, only drilled.

“We are not aware of any cases of ground water contamination due to fracking.”

Bruun was lastly asked what guarantees Shell SA could give that the same or worse contamination will not happen in the Karoo, if the company goes ahead with shale gas drilling there.

He did not respond to this question.