The apparent rumour of a diamond being found on the open portion of municipal-owned land in Dalham Road is believed to have led to an influx of small-scale miners to the area.
THE APPARENT rumour of a diamond being found on the open portion of municipal-owned land in Dalham Road is believed to have led to an influx of small-scale miners to the area yesterday morning.
According to the Sol Plaatje ward councillor for the area, Okkie Fourie, information was received earlier this week that small-scale miners (also known as zama zamas) intended moving onto the vacant piece of land adjacent to Keeley Park.
“Early yesterday morning, residents in the area noticed a group of around 20 people gathering in Dalham Road. There were also a couple of people in the surrounding veld.”
Fourie said he attempted to contact several municipal officials but could not get hold of anyone.
“After a while, municipal security guards arrived in the area and spoke to the illegal miners.
“The general consensus amongst the group, however, was that this ground was not conducive for mining and they dispersed on their own accord.”
Fourie dismissed rumours that a diamond had been discovered in the area. “If anything was found, the miners would have been less inclined to leave on their own accord. I think someone just sucked that rumour out of their thumb.”
He pointed out that mine tailings had never been dumped in that area. “I don’t think there are any diamonds to be found there at all.”
A decision was taken by the Sol Plaatje City Council in November last year to alienate the prime piece of land in Dalham Road, which was originally earmarked for the development of a private hospital, for R9.5 million to a private developer, NC Millenium Property Developers, for the construction of a student village.
According to the application, the proposed development, which is worth R550 million, was for student accommodation.
However, several objections were received by the municipality to the proposed alienation of the land.
Municipal spokesperson Thoko Riet confirmed yesterday that the land still belonged to the municipality and had not been sold yet.
“The property belongs to the municipality.”
She stated further that the local authority could confirm that small-scale miners illegally occupied the premises owned by the municipality yesterday morning for illegal mining purposes.
“The municipality, through our legal section, will apply for a court interdict to remove the illegal miners if necessary,” Riet added.
The land involved in the proposed sale does not include Keeley Park, which is owned by St Patrick’s CBC.
The executive head of St Patrick’s CBC, Jacques Tredoux, recently announced that the school was developing an R18 million astro turf on the Keeley Park grounds.
The planned development will include a clubhouse and a full astro hockey court, including lights, while the current gully will be renovated and converted into a changeroom and tuck shop/kitchen area.
The project will also include the development of four netball courts, also with high-mast lighting.
Tredoux added that as the entire Keeley Park would also be fenced, it would improve security for residents, as well as upgrade the entire area.
In a letter sent to parents of the school yesterday, Tredoux reiterated that Keeley Park belongs to St Patrick’s CBC and Beaconsfield Park to the municipality.
“This morning, a group of approximately 30 Zama-Zama miners accessed Beaconsfield Park as they were under the impression that this might be a mineral-rich area,” Tredoux said in the letter.
“The SAPS and community leaders acted swiftly and asked them to vacate Beaconsfield Park, as they did not have the necessary permits to explore for diamonds and it is a park belonging to the municipality. The police made it very clear this morning that they will continue to monitor the situation, and as the Zama-Zamas are exploring illegally, they will be asked to leave.”
He added that an influx of illegal miners would create a massive security problem for the school’s pupils and staff using the sporting facility at Keeley Park.