However, Department of Mineral Resources spokesman Ernest Mulipana disputed this, saying that the ministry’s mining experts had confirmed that there was no mine below where the explosion occurred and, as a result, they believed that Zama-Zamas was not likely to have caused the explosion.
Professor Felix Okonta, Research Head of Geotechnical and Pavement Engineering and Coordinator of Civil Engineering Coronation Design at the University of Johannesburg, believes the blast may have been the work of the Zama Zamas who were trying to blow up a rock beneath the Joburg CBD.
Although it hasn’t completely ruled out a gas leak, Okonta
He said the bomb used to split the rock could have been used to drive one of the old mining shafts.
“Zama-zamas engage in unregulated mining. Joburg is full of old mine shafts, and there are rocks that contain minerals, so you can zama-zamas attack those walls.
“There are many long lanes of mine shafts that criss-cross Johannesburg. It is not impossible that (the explosion) was related to mining activities, which is where the detonation could have taken place.
“Park Station is underground and there are underground passages and we don’t really know how far they go. People could have started digging for gold in those tunnels.”
Dr Onkgopotse Madumo, a lecturer at the University of Johannesburg’s School of Public Administration, Governance and Public Policy, believes it may take a “long time” to get the affected area back to normal.
“With Covid-19, we saw how municipalities were not able to respond adequately to the disaster. With this kind of disaster destroying infrastructure, it will take longer, because as infrastructure is damaged, the municipality will first need to try to justify the extent of the damage. They will have to quantify it in this area in terms of the money that needs to be allocated.”
He said the repair work could take up to four years.
“Since this is a disaster and it can be easily announced, we need to tender the infrastructure project because the road that was damaged needs to be repaired and the subway may need to be replaced, so it may take more than six months, and I am optimistic here saying six months, but it may be longer than six months.
“It’s not a patchwork, it’s not like you’re working with the drill. Until the project starts, and for them to get the bidding companies to work on the road, that could take six months. The project itself could take about three to four years or so. That’s serious ramifications.”