A week ago, on Thursday 26 October 2017, one of KZN’s most dedicated and well-known activists, Wally Menne, unexpectedly passed away. His sad death, at 66 years old, leaves a huge void. He is survived by his wife, Rose Williams, Director of Biowatch, and three sons, Adam, Robus and Verdan.
Numerous tributes in praise of Wally are in circulation, many from international organisations, confirming that he was a man of enormous integrity and courage, and a fierce supporter of environmental and social justice.
Wally was the founding director of Timberwatch, an NGO that exposed and challenged thirsty industrial plantations that robbed rural communities of their land and livelihoods, destroyed indigenous forests and threatened grasslands.
Wally was also strongly opposed to mining in KZN. He was central to the successful Campaign for St. Lucia in the late 1980s and 1990s that saved the eastern shores from titanium mining, and instead opened the way for the creation of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park as a World Heritage site.
Wally was highly critical of Richards Bay Minerals, Tendele Coal Mining and Zululand Anthracite Colliery (ZAC). As such, he was a long standing ally of the Global Environmental Trust (GET). The day before he died, Wally invited GET to join him on a visit to Okhukho, to see firsthand the impacts of ZAC on this community.
We will deeply miss Wally for his knowledge, wisdom, dedication, commitment, and courage. May his spirit and excellent work continue to inspire people to fight the good fight.
There will be a celebration of Wally’s life at the Durban Botanical Gardens Visitors Centre on Friday 3rd November at 16h00.