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‘Sheriff must evict illegal miners’

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Miners will continue with their operations while they await the outcome of their appeal

FIGHTING EVICTION: Artisanal miners outside theNorthern Cape High Courton Friday. Picture: Soraya Crowie

WHILE an application to appeal against the ruling has been made, the Northern Cape High Court has determined that an eviction order against illegal miners in the vicinity of Kimberley, awarded to Kimberley Ekapa Mining Joint Venture earlier this year, must be enforced.

Hundreds of illegal miners gathered in the Oppenheimer Gardens on Friday morning to wait for proceedings to commence in the Northern Cape High Court.

This came after Kimberley Ekapa Mining Joint Venture (KEM-JV) on Wednesday made an application requesting that the interdict granted against the miners in January, which is currently before the Constitutional Court, be immediately executed and enforced.

This order saw KEM-JV argue that the allegations that the illegal miners had engaged in violence be viewed as exceptional circumstances to justify the immediate enforcement of Judge Cecile Williams’ ruling made at the beginning of the year.

The chairman of the Kimberley Artisanal Mine Workers (KAMW), Lucky Seekoei, refuted many of the mine security’s allegations of destruction and violence, adding that there had been no violence prior to attempts to forcibly remove them from the site.

While Judge Williams ruled in favour of KEM-JV on Friday, Seekoei confirmed yesterday that the miners had already appealed the court’s decision and he highlighted the level of force used by mine security as a major source of animosity.

“The court ruled that the eviction may be carried out following the violence last week,” Seekoei said. “However, we view this ruling as unfair and have already appealed against the decision.

“Therefore, we will be continuing with our operations while we await the outcome of our appeal.”

Seekoei further alleged that the police had collaborated with mine security in the build-up to last week’s altercation, reiterating that there had been no incidents of violence prior to attempts to have the miners forcefully removed from the land.

“That attack was planned a long time ago,” said Seekoei. “They came there with Nyalas and fired at us with police ammunition.

“They came there with the intention of causing harm, knowing full well that we have been working there peacefully for years.

“The questions now are surrounding a piece of land, near Beefmaster, where we were working the floors until we were forced off, losing our only means of putting food on the table. We had to move to survive.”

Meanwhile, KEM-JV on Saturday welcomed the decision.

“The ruling means that the sheriff now has to execute the eviction order granted on January 13 2017,” said the spokesperson for KEM-JV, Gert Klopper, on Saturday afternoon.

“Since Thursday, there have been sporadic attacks on company employees and property, during which security personnel were forced to take action in defence of these.

“Appropriate charges are being laid with the SAPS for each of these incidents.”

While rumors of the death of one of the mine security guards, injured during violent clashes between KEM-JV employees and the illegal miners last week, circulated over the weekend, Klopper said that the injured security guards were recovering well but could not be reached for interviews with the media.

“They have been discharged from hospital and have been sent home,” Klopper added. “They are on sick leave with their families back in their home communities.”