Illegal mining ‘threatens stability’
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.