Oil and gas companies have tried to tap into South African resources for over a century. Complaints about fracking in South Africa began in the Karoo, an arid environment where there are limited water resources. This issue is debated because while fracking has potential economic and energy benefits, it can also cause potentially adverse environmental impacts. After initially proposing a ban on hydraulic fracturing in April 2011, the South African government lifted this postponement in September 2012. Consequently, several energy companies were granted exploration licenses. The company Rhino Oil and Gas first proposed to frack in the Karoo in 2013, which stirred emotions for community members in Matatiele, a municipality in the Eastern Cape. In October 2015, Rhino Oil & Gas put forward the first proposal to explore areas that would offer the company the opportunity to explore the gas potential in the Matatiele region, which covered a total area of more than 120,000 ha and in excess of 200 farms. Following this, the company presented eleven more applications over the Eastern Cape, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the Free State. Opposition campaigns began to arise all across South Africa and people came together under one common goal, a Frack Free South Africa.
On August 24, 2016, an eight-year-old budding environmental activist spoke with the CEO in charge of Rhino Oil and Gas’s Matatiele project during a public meeting to ask “why are you doing this?”. On Oct 3rd and 4th, 2016, as part of FrackFree Fest, a long list of environmental and citizens actions groups hosted by FrackFree SA, groundwork and Environmental and Rural Solutions met to write a Manifesto against fracking in the areas around Matatiele, known as the Matatiele Manifesto . On Thursday, Dec 1, 2016, Cheryllyn Dudley, an MP for the ACDP presented the concerns of the Matatiele Manifesto to Parliament. After the Western Cape High Court’s ruling against the application for ER by South African Agency for Promotion of Petroleum and Exploitation (PASA), the Minister of Mineral Resources and Rhino Oil and Gas Exploration South Africa (Pty) Ltd. in nearby Northern KwaZulu-Natal . The Matatiele exploration license was approved in October 2017 by Dlamini, who has since left his post and has been arrested for fraud and scandal in a separate affair. In May 2019, AgriSa led legal actions against Rhino Oil and Gas, in relation to the exploration rights granted in the northeastern part of the Eastern Cape, which comes amid concerns that the state is backing fracking despite opposition from farmers and residents .