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Illegal miners up in arms

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Illegal mining activities were taking place at the same time in the area between the pavement and the palisade fence of the school

ARTISANAL miners in Colville are up in arms after an interdict was obtained to prevent them from conducting any mining activities at the back of Progress Primary School.

An interdict was issued on February 14, instructing that they are prohibited from removing panels or the fence in order to gain access to the school premises to collect sand to sift and from burning any equipment used to scrape the sand from the school premises.

In court papers the director of legal services at the Department of Education, Onewang Godfrey Mogatle, stated that the police were called out to prevent illegal mining at the back of the school on October 29, 2019 after the school kitchen was broken into.

“This proved to be futile as mining activities continued. Illegal mining activities were taking place at the same time in the area between the pavement and the palisade fence of the school. These illegal mining activities were taking place gradually and the number of illegal miners was increasing. There was mining inside the school premises by late November 2019.”

The school enlisted a construction company to remove the sand from the site where illegal mining activities were taking place on the school premises, at no cost to the Department of Education.

The same excavation company was used to assist the school in developing a sports field.

It was indicated that the company would make use of its own machinery to scrape the overgrown fields and remove the soil and bushes.

Mogatle stated that the miners threatened to burn the equipment that was used to remove the sand on February 12, after which the contractor left the site.

“The illegal mining activities on the school premises hampers the safety and well-being of the pupils and teachers. Pupils run the risk of being injured from these mining activities that are taking place on the school premises. Other pupils will take this opportunity to abscond from the school without permission from their teachers.”

Mogatle added that the school was at risk of theft, as there was no fence to prevent illegal entry onto the school grounds. The school noted four incidents of illegal entry and one burglary since the start of the school year.

Concern was also raised by the principal regarding numerous holes that were dug by miners on the pavement in front of the school

“This causes a danger to our pupils coming to or from school. The safety of our pupils is of paramount importance and we would not like an accident to happen before this matter is addressed.”

The informal miners approached the Shaine Griqua Advice and Development Centre to facilitate the appointment of an advocate to oppose the interdict when they return to court next week.

They are also seeking intervention from the premier and the Department of Mineral Resources, to assist in obtaining mining permits.