Ramaphosa needs to get the SIU to investigate rampant illegal mining in Emalahleni

Issued by James Lorimer MP – DA Shadow Minister of Mineral Resources
18 May 2022 in News

Please find attached soundbite by James Lorimer MP

An area on the outskirts of Emalahleni has joined the growing list of areas seemingly beyond the effective control of government.

An area near Duvha Park is riddled with pits dug by illegal coal miners, scattered with abandoned or deserted mining machines, and blanketed by the smoke and fumes of burning coal fires that are running out of control. Despite this having been a problem for months, SAPS have failed to take effective action, the local municipality has ignored it, the owner of the mining right has blocked action and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has taken no discernable action.

Meanwhile, mining continues within the exclusion zone around powerlines and a major road. Smoke and carbon monoxide from perpetual fires continues to cause headaches and other health problems for residents in nearby areas.

When I visited the site on Sunday, there was nothing preventing any member of the public from accessing the site. Despite the presence of ongoing mining, including the setting up of new drill holes for blasting and a number of deserted, multi-million Rand machines, there was no official presence on the part of the municipality, the mine, the SAPS or the DMRE.

The only possible explanations are either paralytic incapacity or wide scale payoffs to get all the authorities to look the other way. The DA believes it is the latter.

Given what appears to be pervasive corruption at all levels of administration, we believe this needs to be subject to an all-encompassing investigation of the kind handled by the Special Investigations Unit.

We therefore call on President Cyril Ramaphosa to proclaim an investigation by the SIU into illegal coal mining in the Emalahleni Municipality. This investigation should include probes of the SAPS, the DMRE and the municipality. The role of mining license holder Thungela Coal should also be questioned as it has apparently blocked action by local residents to put out the raging fires.

The DA thus calls on President Ramaphosa to speedily issue a proclamation for an investigation by the SIU of the entire illegal mining eco-system in Emalahleni Municipality.

The non-performance of the local DMRE office, which is located 9 km from the site, is disturbing in the extreme. It is something I will raise in the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy.