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Miners want answers from Saul

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They are also demanding the immediate release of 48 artisanal miners who were arrested over the past three weeks

DEMAND: A group of artisanal miners marched to the Office of the Premier yesterday, where they spoke to Northern Cape Premier Zamani Saul. The miners want a response to the set of demands that they handed over last month.Picture: Danie van der Lith

ARTISANAL miners in Kimberley are threatening to close down Ekapa mine today if they do not receive a response to a set of demands that they handed over last month.

A group of miners from Samaria Road and Greenpoint marched to the Office of the Premier yesterday, where they complained that they were unemployed, hungry and had suffered serious injuries after being shot with rubber bullets by mine security and police officers.

“Two pregnant ladies suffered miscarriages after being beaten, a man lost his leg, another man lost his finger and children had to undergo surgery after being shot at.”

They are also demanding the immediate release of 48 artisanal miners who were arrested over the past three weeks.

“The arrested miners include Lesotho nationals. All xenophobic attacks must be stopped.”

They added that the incarcerated miners were being left to “rot in jail” without being given bail.

“We are all legal miners. Sol Plaatje Municipality must also withdraw all interdicts against us. If our demands are not met by tomorrow (today) we will close down Ekapa mine.”

The artisanal miners are also demanding to be provided with basic services, including water, electricity and sanitation, at the informal settlements they have set up.

“We live on the land near to where we mine and our land is being sold under our feet. It is sad that no one takes our grievances seriously.”

Kimberley Artisanal Miners convener Poncho Mocwana added that the Department of Mineral Resources had to expedite the process of allowing informal miners to dig at all unused municipal dumps.

“We gave the Office of the Premier seven days to respond to our memorandum on June 20 and we are still without a response. The premier must intervene to put a stop to the clashes between miners, security and the police.”

Premier Zamani Saul resolved to meet with the leadership of the Kimberley Artisanal Miners this morning at 7.30am.

Bodyguards pushed some of the artisanal miners away from Saul yesterday, where they instructed the miners not to stand too close to the premier.

Saul promised to address all the issues raised and requested time to go through the memorandum, where he indicated that he was not familiar with its contents.

“I will not lie to you and pretend that we will instruct the police to release the arrested persons when we do not know why they were arrested in the first place. No one told me to come and address the miners, I decided on my own accord to address them when I drove into the parking lot and saw them standing outside,” Saul told the group of miners.