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Illegal miners ’invade’ city library

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Library users and community members in Floors have expressed their concerns regarding illegal mining activities that have erupted at the Judy Scott Library.

Residents residing near the Judy Scott Library are afraid as illegal miners have started mining on the property of the library. Picture: Soraya Crowie

LIBRARY users and community members in Floors have expressed their concerns regarding illegal mining activities that have erupted at the Judy Scott Library.

The backyard of the library is full of huge holes where illegal mining is taking place.

The library has also reported several break-ins recently.

There is no fence around the facility and the yard is in disarray, with overgrown grass and trees.

The only safety measure that is implemented by the staff at the library is a padlock at the burglar gate at the front door.

When the DFA visited the library this week, several individuals, suspected to be illegal miners, made their way through the yard of the library and then disappeared into the mining dumps at the back.

A concrete wall, with a “thoroughfare” through it as some of the concrete slabs have been removed, is the only barrier separating the library yard from the mining dump.

A concerned parent whose underage daughter is a regular at the library said she is worried about the safety of her child.

“The safety at this library has always been a concern. However, now it seems the safety measures are totally disregarded and not addressed. The employees at this library are all female and they have to literally live behind lock and key. The employees have to make use of a padlock to lock the burglar doors at the front. One has to shout for someone to open the gates. They usually have to look through the window in order to open the gates for the community,” said the parent.

“My child loves this library because it is in close proximity to our house, but now there are many ‘characters’ roaming in and out of the yard of the library. I do not understand why the issue of safety and security of the library has fallen on deaf ears all these years.”

Another community member, who was going to the clinic opposite the library, warned that the activities at the library would spill over to the clinic.

“It is only a matter of time before the mining activities will take place at the clinic. There are many vulnerable and elderly people who come to this library. There is an open veld next to the library and the clinic. The community hall situated next to the clinic and the library is no longer in use and has been vandalised. These facilities will soon become a hot spot for criminal activities.

“There are the mine dumps at the back of the library and now illegal mining activities are happening inside the yard of the library. There is nothing stopping the miners from crossing the street and searching for precious stones in the yard of the clinic.

“People make their way to this clinic during the early mornings. In winter the early hours are still dark and they leave late in the afternoon. These mining activities are a safety risk to community members, especially those who are dependent on the library and the clinic.”

Other community members agreed, saying that the recently reported Krugersdorp gang-rape incident should be sending urgent warning signals to those who are responsible for the safety of the library.

“The Krugersdorp gang-rape has sent shockwaves through the entire country. Why should we wait until a similar incident occurs here in our city before we act? Illegal mining activities have erupted in several parts of the city and council has not implemented any by-laws which curb these activities.

“People owning private land are forced to watch helplessly as illegal mining activities are conducted on their land. Even residential areas have fallen victim to illegal mining activities. Now it is the public buildings and resources. Where will it end, because there seems to be no laws or any action taken against the illegal miners?

“These buildings that are supposed to assist community members will soon be vandalised then left abandoned because they are not safe. Our community will again have to fork out money just to access basic services that will be situated in more ‘upmarket areas’. It is truly heartbreaking,” they said.

Sol Plaatje Municipality spokesperson Thoko Riet said they are addressing the matter and have “sternly warned” the artisanal miners to stop all mining activities.

“We sent our security team to the library on Tuesday and they have closed all the holes that were dug open. The Judy Scott Library is municipal property and cannot just be invaded. Illegal miners or artisanal miners are not allowed to dig on municipal property,” said Riet.

“Our libraries are visited by pupils and daily visitors who come in to read for their mental health or to study. We, as the owners of the property, have a right to provide them that. We understand the high unemployment rate in the city, however, there are by-laws and processes to follow.”

Concrete slabs have been removed from the fence, creating a “thoroughfare” between the Judy Scott Library and the adjacent mine dumps where artisanal miners have started digging holes behind the library. Picture: Soraya Crowie
Artisanal miners have started mining around the Judy Scott Library. Picture: Soraya Crowie
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