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Miners up in arms over permits

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"How can we afford to buy anything when we are not allowed to mine and are constantly being harassed by mine security and the police?"

PROTEST: Artisanal miners set a tyre alight during a protest action on Friday. Picture: Soraya Crowie

Artisanal miners mining on land next to Samaria Road on Friday embarked on a protest and burnt a tyre. They claim that the chairperson of the Kimberley Artisanal Mineworkers (KAMW), Lucky Seekoei, was selling “permits” issued by the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) last year.

Seekoei, however, pointed out that only two permits were handed over in June last year by the Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources, Godfrey Oliphant, with the applicants’ names who had applied to mine an area covering 500ha.

The permits were issued to the Batho Pele (BPMPC) and Goedemoed (GMPC) Mining Primary Cooperatives as beneficiaries.

Spokesperson for the Samaria artisanal miners, William Diphane, claimed that the “permits” were issued free of charge, but that Seekoei is selling them for between R200 and R300 each.

“How can we afford to buy anything when we are not allowed to mine and are constantly being harassed by mine security and the police?” Diphane asked.

He added that they need to find a solution to this problem. “We will be forced to take the law into our own hands. All we want to do is mine and make money. We do not want to become a burden to society. (Lucky) Seekoei must do the right thing.”

Seekoei said yesterday that it was impossible to sell permits.

“There is only one blanket permit – how do you sell that? It was also claimed that I sold Greenpoint. How? I do not have a title deed for Greenpoint.”

He stated that the protesting miners belong to a cooperative that wants to replace the BPMPC.

“They are using the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to advance their personal motives. But we need to allow people to protest so that they can raise their grievances. That is why we won’t stand in their way.”

Seekoei also stated that they, as artisanal miners, were moving away from selling diamonds on the black market. “We are moving in the right direction and legitimising our business and have started selling on the Kimberlite market.”