Pre­mier sym­pa­thetic to il­le­gal min­ers’ plight

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - NEWS - MUR­RAY SWART STAFF RE­PORTER

IL­LE­GAL min­ers op­er­at­ing in the North­ern Cape might be earn­ing an in­come by break­ing the law, but these crim­i­nal en­deav­ours should not be viewed in the same light as se­ri­ous or vi­o­lent of­fences.

This is ac­cord­ing to North­ern Cape Pre­mier Sylvia Lu­cas, who con­ceded dur­ing the re­cent pre­sen­ta­tion of the pro­vin­cial crime stats that she was sym­pa­thetic to­wards the min­ers’ plight and that her of­fice, the Kim­ber­ley Ekapa Min­ing Joint Ven­ture (KEM-JV) and the il­le­gal min­ers were look­ing for an am­i­ca­ble res­o­lu­tion to the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion.

Lu­cas ac­knowl­edged that min­ing with­out a per­mit was a crim­i­nal of­fence and that the KEM-JV, as the right­ful per­mit holder, was jus­ti­fied in re­sent­ing the on­go­ing il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity on its premises.

“It is seen as a crime that they (the il­le­gal min­ers) are min­ing where they don’t have per­mits, but the Pre­mier’s Of­fice has put sys­tems in place to en­sure that peo­ple aren’t pre­vented from earn­ing an in­come,” the pre­mier said.

“We have had a neg­a­tive re­sponse from the com­pany (KEM-JV), which has adopted a hard­ened at­ti­tude, how­ever, this is jus­ti­fied be­cause they are los­ing prof­its through il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties.

“It is a crime, but it is not as if they are stand­ing up to kill some­one to get to di­a­monds. We are look­ing to as­sist them to get le­gal ac­cess.”

KEM-JV spokesper­son, Gert Klop­per, said that the min­ing com­pany ap­pre­ci­ated the pre­mier’s recog­ni­tion that the min­ers’ ac­tiv­i­ties on Ekapa sites were il­le­gal, but added that they were puz­zled by her ref­er­ence to a “hard­ened at­ti­tude”.

KEM-JV cur­rently em­ploys around 1 700 per­ma­nent em­ploy­ees and a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of con­trac­tors.

“The plight of gov­ern­ment to al­low those who are now min­ing il­le­gally for an in­come needs to be weighed against the re­spon­si­bil­ity of KEM-JV to pro­vide its own em­ploy­ees with sta­ble, se­cure and long-term em­ploy­ment, and of ex­tend­ing the life of le­gal op­er­a­tions in the in­ter­est of con­tri­bu­tion to the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, econ­omy and the fis­cus through legally paid roy­al­ties and taxes, as well as re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of the land, none of which the il­le­gal min­ers do,” Klop­per pointed out.

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