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Concern over informal mining deaths

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The mayor of Nama Khoi Municipality has expressed deep concern over the spate of mining accidents in the Namakwa region.

File pircture: Timothy Bernard/African news Agency(ANA)

THE MAYOR of Nama Khoi Municipality, Dr Gustav Bock, has expressed deep concern over the recent spate of mining accidents and deaths in the Namakwa District.

He stated that four miners were killed earlier this month when they were trapped inside tunnels after informal mining structures collapsed.

“Earlier this month, a Port Nolloth resident succumbed to his injuries in hospital after the tunnels caved in at Tweepad where he was digging,” said Bock.

“More recently, three Zimbabwean nationals were unable to escape tunnels that were dug at the Nuttaboy informal mining settlement near Kleinzee when the structures caved in on April 17, during the early hours of the morning.”

Bock said that two of the deceased were brothers.

“The Kleinzee police have opened an inquest docket into the death of these three men.”

Bock was sceptical whether formalising the digging industry would solve the situation.

“The tunnels created by diggers are not supported by any stable structures and most of the diggers are unable to identify any mining threats, which leaves very few options.”

He pointed out that social challenges and hardships were some of the reasons why people were flocking to the open mines.

“People in Namakwa are caught in a serious battle with poverty, fighting very hard to keep the boat afloat during the current economic challenges faced by South Africa.”

Bock said he would continue to engage with stakeholders to find viable solutions to eradicate illegal digging at informal structures and to assist miners who were struggling to make ends meet.

DA provincial chairperson Dr Isak Fritz called on the government to formalise the small-scale mining industry following the deaths at Nuttaboy mine.

“While the DA does not condone lawlessness, we also cannot allow loss of life to occur unabated in the largely unregulated artisanal mining industry, despite years of empty promises to legalise and regulate artisanal mining in Namaqualand through the issuing of permits and land use,” said Fritz.

He pointed out that artisanal miners were still waiting for permits to mine in the region.

“The situation is a ticking time bomb. Even more so now, given growing tensions amongst locals towards foreigners.

“Government and the authorities need to plot a way forward that will not only help struggling miners to put bread on the table for their families in a safe and legal environment but also ensure that small-mining is regulated to benefit the economy and not the illicit diamond industry.”

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