Il­le­gal min­ing ‘threat­ens sta­bil­ity’

The New Age (Gauteng) - - GAUTENG NEWS - NONDUMISO ZWANE non­du­misoz@the­newage.co.za

THE de­part­ment of com­mu­nity safety says il­le­gal min­ing con­tin­ues to threaten the sta­bil­ity of many com­mu­ni­ties.

De­part­ment spokesper­son Si­bongile Mahlaola says it has noted with con­cern the spate of vi­o­lence and killings of il­le­gal min­ers.

On March 7, 14 il­le­gal min­ers were killed in Benoni, Ekurhu­leni. Gang ri­valry was be­lieved to have been the mo­tive for the killings.

Mahlaola said the num­ber of dis­used or aban­doned mine shafts in Gaut­eng was high and po­lice did not have the re­sources to pre­vent the pro­lif­er­a­tion of il­le­gal min­ing.

“Law en­force­ment agen­cies find it dif­fi­cult to curb il­le­gal min­ing be­cause the min­ers spend most of their time un­der­ground. They have spe­cial equip­ment and are heav­ily armed, thus mak­ing it very dif­fi­cult for the po­lice,” she said.

Il­le­gal min­ing is of­ten very risky and Benoni is no­to­ri­ous for shoot-outs be­tween ri­val gangs, with sev­eral in­ci­dents recorded in re­cent years.

“For­eign na­tion­als from Mozam­bique, Zim­babwe and Le­sotho, as well as for­mer em­ploy­ees of mines with skills and ex­per­tise in min­ing are in­creas­ingly turn­ing to the prac­tice,” Mahlaola said.

She says the pro­lif­er­a­tion of il­le­gal min­ing was be­cause the Dde­part­ment of Min­eral Re­sources (DMR) is not en­forc­ing the law.

The DMR says South Africa risks los­ing con­trol of il­le­gal min­ers en­ter­ing closed shafts since these ac­tiv­i­ties have in­creased to in­volve about 14 000 peo­ple and is grow­ing.

Mahlaola said the Gaut­eng Il­le­gal Min­ing Fo­rum must erad­i­cate il­le­gal min­ing ac­tiv­i­ties and as a pre­cau­tion the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and seal­ing of old shafts and holes should be per­ma­nent.

Com­mu­nity mem­bers are en­cour­aged to make use of po­lice phone num­bers to re­port all forms of il­le­gal min­ing ac­tiv­ity.

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