Inhabitants of the Angelo Slum in Boksburg, A A deadly gas leak In the past week, they say they are living in fear as illegal miners return to work.
“Just last night, I was yelling at some of them because they were trying to get something over my fence. I was afraid to go out,” said one of the residents, Amancio Mucumbi.
Mocumbi, who arrived from Mozambique nine months ago, lives with a relative and makes a living by selling vegetables on the street.
Another resident, Lerato Movolo, said, “The only time I will feel safe is when the open passages they talk about are closed. Because if the shafts are not closed, they will continue their operations and endanger our lives.”
Seventeen people He died on July 5 after inhaling a toxic gas believed to have leaked from a cylinder used by zama-zamas (illegal miners) to process gold-bearing material.
Gauteng Police Commissioner Elias Moyla visited the area last week and police revealed a number of makeshift mining operations in shacks where people lived. Many of the huts have been abandoned by their owners, apparently out of fear of arrest.
Sometimes it happens in the presence of the police. I can take you to the mine now and we’ll find them working hard. Where is the police? Mandla Mangadi said.
“We are afraid because we don’t know what other deadly substances they are bringing here,” he added.
Read more at The Daily Maverick: ‘I would walk on dead bodies’ – respondents and residents say of horror of Boksburg gas leak
Theophilus Daluksulu Maguzi, 69, called on the government to build homes for slum dwellers.
“No normal person should live like this. We are threatened by criminals daily. We are on the brink of an even greater tragedy if the government does not intervene. If illegal miners can steal and bring such dangerous gases here, who knows what they are bringing into their operations.” illegal.
Lehlohonolo Setati said, “You say it is illegal, but are you going to provide people with jobs? When people are trying to make a living and you make it illegal, you should be able to provide them with an alternative.”
Stati said he was not involved in illegal mining but that many of his Lesotho comrades were.
“People are afraid after what happened, which is understandable, and they fear for their lives,” Stati said.
“But no one wants to leave their home and go to face an unfamiliar underground world. The needs outweigh the risks.”
Countering illegal mining
No one has been held responsible for the 17 deaths and five illegal miners who were in possession of the leaking gas cylinder are said to have died in the disaster.
The Minerals Council of South Africa said that to effectively tackle the scourge of illegal mining, the government needs to:
- Create a specialized, well-resourced and dedicated Mining Police Task Force focused on mining-related crime.
- Urgent changes to the law to define illegal mining as a recognized criminal activity with severe penalties.
- Improve crime intelligence to ensure that leaders of criminal gangs responsible for illegal mining are arrested and prosecuted.
- Engage with the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy on how to deal with the 6,100 abandoned and unowned mines as well as old mine dumps in innovative ways to reduce criminal activities at these sites.
- Accelerate the inclusion of artisanal and small-scale miners into the formal economy. This does not include the legalization of illegal miners who engage in criminal activities.
SAPS and the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy are establishing a task force to deal with crimes related to illegal mining.
Read more at The Daily Maverick: Zama zamas is just one part of the multi-billion rand organized crime economy threatening South Africa
Prosecution of illegal miners remains low. One rare success came in April 2023, when there were 87 illegal miners to rule by Stilfontein Regional Court to 696 years in prison.
The group was arrested during a multi-disciplinary operation led by the Hawkes Serious Organized Crime Investigation Unit, Special Task Force and Area Unlawful Mining Task Force at Shaft 2 in Orkney on 20 October 2021. DM