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Organisation calls on govt to intervene

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In a statement issued by the spokesperson of AASA, there has been little assistance from from the office of the Premier nor the Department of Mineral Resources

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Action Aid South Africa (AASA) yesterday called on the Northern Cape government to intervene in order to assist in finding an amicable resolution to ongoing tensions between the Kimberley Ekapa Mining Joint Venture (KEM-JV) and hundreds of artisanal miners currently operating just outside the city.

In a statement issued by the AASA yesterday, the organisation’s spokesperson, Christopher Rutledge, said that while the artisanal miners appeared to have been going out of their way to ensure an amicable outcome, little assistance appeared to be coming from the Office of Premier, Sylvia Lucas, nor the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR).

“After a number of meetings, the premier’s office, together with the DMR and Ekapa, offered to facilitate a permit application for the miners on a plot of land identified by the DMR,” said Rutledge. “The agreement was presented by the premier’s legal representative and stated that KEM-JV agreed to provide financial assistance to the informal mineworkers to apply for mining rights.

“However, this was subject to the area to be mined being viable and profitable for prospecting.”

Rutledge stated that Tuesday’s eviction of the miners was illegal, according to their legal representative, Johan Lorenzen of Richard Spoor Attorneys.

“Given that the premier’s office, the DMR and Ekapa were negotiating with us and the informal miners in what we believed to be good faith, we find that this sudden turn to illegal and violent actions to deny citizens their right to work and feed their families, raises serious questions about the integrity of these office bearers.

“The informal miners have consistently been the ones asking the minister, the DMR and the premier to assist them in regularising and legalising their efforts to feed their families. Now they find themselves not only without options to feed their families, but also betrayed by the very institutions which should not only uphold the law but also be the bastions of integrity and protect their rights.”

Spokesperson for the premier’s office, Bronwyn Thomas-Abrahams, confirmed that staff had met with the various role-players on numerous occasions, adding that resolving the matter was an ongoing process.

“The Office of the Premier can confirm that, during April this year, the artisanal miners submitted a memorandum of concerns to the premier.On the basis of this memorandum, the premier tasked legal services in her office to look into the matter.

“After our initial meeting with the artisanal miners, meetings were set up with other stakeholders, including the provincial and national departments, mining houses and law enforcement agencies.”

She said that the purpose of these sessions were to mediate whatever differences existed between parties. “The matter is ongoing and at this stage, in the interest of all parties involved, we are not at liberty to disclose details of the interactions.”

The DMR failed to comment.