According to DA Shadow Minister of Mineral Resources, James Lorimer MP, government authorities have lost control over at least two mining settlements in Gauteng. “Residents living nearby the Zamimpilo settlement in Riverlea and in the area between Snake Road and Golden Drive in Benoni are being terrorized by killings, shootings and explosions daily” he said. Both these areas have extensive illegal gold mining operations.

Residents say both areas are “like war zones”, and according to Mr Lorimer, there have been nights in Benoni with up to ten major explosions. On Monday, nearby Zamimpilo, warring gang members shot and killed a man right next to Main Reef Road at 10.30 in the morning. “Zamimpilo experiences fusillades of shots at night that continue for hours on end. That’s thought to be by gangs struggling for control of the illegal mines. Both areas are honeycombed by illegally dug shafts” says Mr Lorimer.

Police appear to have given up on the matter and seem unwilling or unable to take any action, despite shooting and explosions.

Illegal mining has been a problem for years, and not only in these areas. With the economy in a dire state, especially following the last 2 years of pandemic mismanagement, and poverty and unemployment at alarmingly high rates, it is no surprise that people are willing to put themselves in danger by working in illegal mines in order to put food on the table.

According to the Minerals Council, the cost of illegal mining to the economy ranges from around R7 billion to R21 billion.

According to research by ENACT (an observer implemented by the Institute for Security Studies and INTERPOL, in affiliation with the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime), the outputs of illegal mining by Zama Zama informal miners, are in excess of R14 billion a year. This is one of the biggest sources of illegal gold on the continent. According to ENACT, the majority of it is exported to Dubai (at least 34 tons between 2012 and 2016), and more enters international markets via neighbouring countries.

Mr Lorimer says that over a period of years the DA has called for, and repeats those calls now for:

  • Legislative changes to properly criminalise illegal mining.
  • A police unit properly trained and capacitated to understand mining law and with the firepower and will to tackle heavily armed gangs.

“Neither suggestion has been acted on by government. That has led to widespread speculation that senior political figures are profiting from illegal mining. It’s also led to the current situation where the government’s writ no longer extends to mining settlements” says Mr Lorimer.

“If the government is not prepared to enforce the law, it should not be surprised when increasing numbers of people disobey it. Meanwhile South African citizens affected by the lawlessness live in fear as the police fail utterly in their duty to keep South Africans safe. The government needs to get a grip” added Mr Lorimer.

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1 Comment

  1. I live in new modder. My familys life is absolute hell with the gunfire n blasting, loud explossions that rattle our windows, daily.

    We dont hv peaceful slerp or prace of mind for several years now. This was increased over time to a crises in our lives

    Police vehicles have been seen dropping off n picking up miners n collecting parcels from miners. Corruption has promoted illegal minning at the expense of the honoutable paying citizen.

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