One of the illegal miners, as well as a security guard, were injured in the clashes and were transported to hospital for medical treatment
MORE clashes flared up yesterday morning between mine security personnel and illegal miners operating on the outskirts of Kimberley.
Angry community members accused Kimberley Ekapa Mining Joint Venture (KEM-JV) security officials of opening fire on them with no regard for the safety of innocent bystanders.
Despite the KEM-JV questioning the validity of these allegations, Greenpoint residents also accused KEM-JV security guards of recklessly firing into the residential area, sending members of the community ducking for cover.
One of the illegal miners, as well as a security guard, were injured in the clashes and were transported to hospital for medical treatment.
Tensions remained high while residents awaited the arrival of paramedics and law enforcement officials late yesterday morning, with several in the crowd stating that they had been woken by the sound of sporadic gunfire and non-lethal ammunition ricocheting between their shanties.
The furious residents questioned how security officials could open fire into the settlement with absolute disregard for innocent bystanders, including women and children, many of whom were on their way to work and school when gunshots echoed through the area shortly before 8am.
Greenpoint resident Nomakhosazana Mahlathle was among those left fuming by yesterday’s incident, after she was awoken by the the sound of non-lethal ammunition hitting the corrugated iron walls of her shanty.
“I was asleep when I heard the bullets and jumped out of bed to see what was happening,” she recalled. “There were children outside, including my neighbour’s nine-month-old baby, who was so terrified that he literally s**t himself.” said Mahlathle.
“How dare they put our lives and those of our children in danger like this? It’s a miracle that only one person was injured.”
Cliff Kock, the miner who was shot recently during the enforcement of an eviction order against the illegal miners, shared these sentiments, describing the action taken against his community as nothing short of a declaration of war.
“I am still recovering from my injuries and was asleep at home when I heard the gunshots right outside,” Kock said.
“The miners were only trying to get their equipment and there was no reason for this altercation. There was definitely no need to shoot in the direction of the shanties, putting innocent people, who don’t even have anything to do with mining, in danger.
“This is all because of Judge Williams’ ruling in the high court which should never have been enforced in the first place.
“Clashes like this are like something from the apartheid era and the mining companies have been treating us like this for years. We just don’t see why we should have to die for De Beers or anyone else.”
While no bullet wounds were reported following the incident, one of the illegal miners was transported to Kimberley Hospital by paramedics from Emer-G-Med after allegedly being knocked over by one of the mine security vehicles.
“The patient was transported to the Kimberley Hospital to receive treatment for a fractured leg,” said Emer-G-Med spokesperson, Andre Keyser, adding that no other significant injuries were reported.
“We do not have any other information on the matter at this stage, but he (the patient) said that he had been run over by the Nyala. Apart from the fracture, he didn’t appear to sustain any other major injuries.”
The spokesperson for the Kimberley Artisanal Mineworkers (KAMW), Lucky Seekoei, demanded that an investigation be conducted into the matter.
He pointed out that the land had been given to the municipality and had been earmarked for the use of the community.
“That site isn’t part of Ekapa’s land,” Seekoei said. “It is land that was given to the municipality by De Beers, where the community can take their livestock to graze.”
“As many of the residents don’t have toilets, they also have to go into those bushes to relieve themselves, so for security to open fire on them is both unacceptable and illegal.
“We are demanding to know what police are doing about this and why nobody has been arrested as this is a very serious offence.”
According to the spokesperson for the KEM-JV, Gert Klopper, security personnel had opened fire in self-defence after the illegal miners unlawfully entered the company’s property in contravention of the eviction order against them.
“Security personnel had to use minimum force in defence when illegal miners, re-invading KEM-JV properties from which they were evicted, started attacking them,” Klopper stated yesterday.
“Given the situation and the location of the altercation, there should not have been any innocent bystanders (as they would be trespassing on KEM-JV property), and the security personnel were left with little choice but to defend themselves.
“Allegations of someone being bumped by an armoured vehicle are under investigation, while one contract security person was also injured and taken to hospital.”
Police spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Dimakatso Mooi, added that the matter was subject to a criminal investigation.
“It is alleged that a group of men were found trespassing at a mine and the security chased them,” said Mooi. “During the chase, one of them (the illegal miners) was allegedly run over by the Nyala and is currently in hospital for medical attention. Another man was also arrested for trespassing.
“The police have opened a case of attempted murder and trespassing.”