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‘Brace for more mine violence’

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Tensions were very high throughout the day following the earlier exchanges involving rubber bullets, rocks and petrol bombs

TENSION: More violent altercations took place between illegal miners and security personnel from the Kimberley Ekapa Mining Joint Venture yesterday morning. Picture: Soraya Crowie

THE CITY can brace for more clashes between illegal miners and security personnel from the Kimberley Ekapa Mining Joint Venture (KEM-JV) unless an eviction order granted in favour of the mining company by the Northern Cape High Court is reviewed.

This is according to the spokesperson for the Kimberley Artisanal Mineworkers, Lucky Seekoei, following more violent altercations yesterday.

The site behind Beefmaster and attached to the Kenilworth Cemetery again resembled a war zone yesterday, two weeks after the sheriff of the court began initial efforts to enforce the eviction order.

While no arrests were made, or serious injuries reported, tensions were very high throughout the day following the earlier exchanges involving rubber bullets, rocks and petrol bombs.

An eyewitness, Daisy Damons, said that she arrived at the scene yesterday morning, where the illegal miners were getting their day under way.

“Some of the miners went to gather their tools when the trouble began,” Damons said yesterday afternoon. “They went to the site empty-handed and with no intention of mining. They simply wanted to peacefully gather their belongings when security opened fire without any warning.”

Damons added that one miner was shot in the buttocks while another sustained a wound to the leg from non-lethal ammunition.

“Both are fine and things seem calm at the moment,” she said. “However, we can’t understand how the security can shoot at miners who have no tools, stones, weapons, or anything else in their hands. There was no provocation whatsoever.”

While Seekoei said that he was unaware of any arrests or serious injuries resulting from yesterday’s clashes, he expressed concern that this may not be the case next time, with more altercations inevitable unless the eviction order is reviewed.

“The trouble started again when Ekapa security went into the settlement, again in breach of the court order,” he said. “We maintain that this eviction order cannot be properly carried out, simply because the relevant boundary lines have not been clearly identified. The map that was used in court was supplied by Ekapa and not by the municipality. There are discrepancies between the two and since the municipality’s map was never looked at in court, we have been consulting with our legal representatives and will be picking up the matter again.”

The spokesperson for the KEM-JV, Gert Klopper, rubbished claims that security personnel had opened fire without provocation

“Mine security personnel had to defend themselves when they and security vehicles came under unsolicited attack with rocks and petrol bombs at Kenilworth this morning (yesterday),” said Klopper.

“They then proceeded to remove the illegal miners from the property.”

He added that one of the KEM-JV pumps was pushed into the water and pipelines were sabotaged.

“The illegal miners were also pushed back from this area, and this damage, which has a production impact, is being attended to. After this, large groups of illegal miners converged at the Super Stone operations, where security personnel came under continuous attack at the main entrance gate.”

Klopper emphasised that the venture had repeatedly expressed its commitment to participate in the creation of a legalised artisanal mining framework in Kimberley.

Meanwhile, police spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Dimakatso Mooi, said that police were aware of the incident and were monitoring the situation.

“The police are at Kenilworth after an altercation ensued between the security personnel and the illegal miners,” Mooi said. “At the moment, there are no arrests and no cases have been opened.”