Premier sympathetic to illegal miners’ plight
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.