from ANNA NTABANE in Springs, Ekurhuleni, South Africa
SPRINGS, (CAJ News) – THE illegal miners operating around South Africa’s Ekurhuleni, east of Johannesburg, are hardened hustlers, mainly Zimbabweans.
Among them are teenagers as the prevalence of child labour sustains.
Not even daily arrests by police or death in the earth’s underbelly deter them.
Illicit miners are commonplace in Boksburg, Daggafontein and Grootvlei
where the South African Police Service (SAPS) Ekurhuleni East Cluster has initiated weekly crackdowns to bring the situation under control.
Springs SAPS Spokesperson, Cpt Johannes Ramphora, revealed the extent of the problem.
“The people who are involved in illegal mining are not only from Springs. Some are from around Ekurhuleni and others are from neighbouring countries such as Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe,” Ramphora said.
Apart from the activities being illegal, police are concerned at the loss of life in the illegal trade.
“We hold these operations to reduce soil erosion and stop murders because the illegal miners are killing each other. Innocent community members are affected. We also confiscate illegal materials,” Ramphora said.
Another concerning prevalence is the involvement of children in illegal
“Children as young as 14 years of age are found in the dumped shafts
helping their elders,” Ramphora said.
An illegal miner from Zimbabwe, speaking on condition of anonymity,
conceded he was not proud to be involved in mining but argued he was driven into it after finding jobs elusive.
It is not like we enjoy digging. Our families have to survive. I came all the way from Zimbabwe to look for better life in South Africa but it is difficult to get work hence my involvement in illegal mining,” he said.
Residents also expressed concern at illegal mining in their areas.
Lebogang Ramohau from Lindelani informal settlement appealed to authorities to intervene.
“They should hire people to look after the mines or they should just re-open them and formalise the operations of these miners and create employment,” Ramohau.
– CAJ News