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Miners’ plight highlighted

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The community members were being forced to live without basic services.

VISIT: Members of the DA yesterday visited the informal mining communities in Kimberley where they met with miners and community leaders. Picture: Supplied

THE CONDITIONS under which informal miners in the Kimberley have come under the spotlight following a visit by the DA to the informal settlement in Samaria Park and Kenilworth yesterday.

According to the party’s spokesperson on Access to Jobs, Geordhin Hill-Lewis, the community members were being forced to live without basic services.

“In Samaria Park and Kenilworth Cemetery we saw how 2 000 miners and their families share one tap, with no access to any ablution facilities, no electricity, no clinic and no other basic service delivery of any sort. We heard how prevalent rape is in the community, and how indifferent the police are to helping,” said Hill-Lewis.

He accused the ANC of not delivering on its promises and laid the blame for the conditions under which the informal miners live, at the door of the party.

“We heard how the ANC government has made mining licences conditional on the community supporting the ANC, and how money promised to them by the Department of Mineral Resources, meant for mining equipment and training, was never delivered.

“There are some who have received mining licences but there are still those who have not. This is further proof of what we see across the country – opportunities and services are not open to all, they are reserved for the politically connected, or they are used as tools to control and abuse poor people,” he said.

He said the party, along with its councillors in the Sol Plaatje Municipality, will work on ways to relieve the challenges these communities faced.

“We spoke to our councillors in the municipality and urged them to put pressure on the council and the mayor to get more toilets to these communities. We are also looking at ways to extend the water pipes so many more people can have access to water.

“Currently there is only one tap and some people have to walk far to get to water. This will ease the plight of the people living in the area,” Hill-Lewis said.

Sol Plaatje municipal spokesperson, Sello Matsie, said the community have got organised structure to apply for services from the municipality.

“There are organised structures in those communities that can apply for the required services. Whatever service the municipality provide, be it electricity or water, needs to be paid for by those who make the application. It is not a matter of deliberate denying of services,” said Matsie.

He said that these miners also had the responsibility to restore the land they have been mining on.

“We are currently faced with a problem in Green Street where artisans conducted their mining and left behind huge open holes. Some miners have made good money and returned home, but left the holes open.

“There is now a call on the municipality to close these holes, which will cost us money. The DA also needs to add its voice on how we will get the land rehabilitated,” he said.

ANC spokesperson, Naledi Gaosekwe, labelled the comments by the DA as “cheap politics”.

“This is yet another attempt by the party to play cheap politics with the lives of our people. We have, as an ANC-led government over the last three years, been engaged in discussions with artisanal miners with a view to regularising and legalising their operations in Kimberley.

“This had led to the Department of Minerals and Resources (DMR) issuing licenses to all registered artisanal miners at the time, this is inclusive of the living conditions of the artisanal miners,” said Gaosekwe.

She said the DA used the challenges faced by the miners to win votes.

“The DA have sought to, on the eve of elections, exploit the genuine plight of the working class and the poor. We will, as government, engage with the legitimate committee as identified by the artisanal miners to find joint solutions to the challenges facing them,” said Gaosekwe.