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Mine violence flares up

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The miners claimed that Kimberley Ekapa Mining Joint Venture (KEM-JV) had made 100 hectares of land available to them to mine.

Pictures: Danie van der Lith

AFTER months of calm, artisanal miners in Greenpoint yesterday complained that mine security had started shooting at them again, despite an apparent ceasefire agreement being reached after an eight-year-old boy was injured when he was allegedly shot by mine security in Diamond Park in May.

The miners are also aggrieved that a miner’s dog was injured after he was hit by a rubber bullet on his nose yesterday morning.

“The miners managed to flee into the bushes to avoid being hit when mine security fired rubber bullets. Security chased us off the land and took our tools. They said we can only mine on a piece of ground that is barren of diamonds. We will have no choice but to return to the land from where we were banished. We do not know if the dog died because he ran away while we were waiting for the SPCA to take him to the vet.”

The miners claimed that Kimberley Ekapa Mining Joint Venture (KEM-JV) had made 100 hectares of land available to them to mine.

“No one demarcated the area or showed us the area where we are permitted to mine.”

A KEM-JV spokesperson stated that permits were issued to former illegal miners in order to allow them to conduct artisanal mining legally on 100 hectares out of a total of 500 hectares of land that was made available adjacent to Greenpoint, where yesterday’s incident occurred.

“This agreement made provision for Batho Pele Mining Primary Co-operative – the mining permit holders, to process the residues on this land, which would be demarcated and fenced. The extent of this land was clearly pointed out and agreed with the leadership of the artisanal miners, on behalf of Batho Pele, and confirmed during the site visit on the day of the permit handover, and signed off by all stakeholders, including Greenpoint resident representatives,” said the KEM-JV spokesperson.

He indicated that a group of miners who did not wish to be part of the mining co-operative had yesterday resorted to actions that were “in clear breach of the agreement”.

“KEM-JV personnel and contractors executing certain duties in terms of the agreement, including securing the area and erecting fences, were attacked. As a result our security responded in self-defence. This is currently being taken up, in participation with all relevant authorities, in terms of the mediation provisions of the agreement.”

He pointed out that KEM-JV reserved the right to protect its personnel and property against invasion, attack and any other illegal actions.

He added that the full extent of the land was clearly demarcated in the agreement and was also specified in the mining permits that were issued.

“The actions of the group concerned was deliberately aimed at preventing the demarcation of the mining area. This was in fact what initiated the confrontation. The 100 hectares have been demarcated and signed off. KEM-JV are in the process of erecting a new fence along this boundary, the illegal miners are objecting to this and hence the confrontation.”