The poor bear the brunt of illegal mining while the powerful escape

Issued by James Lorimer MP – DA Shadow Minister of Mineral Resources
07 Jul 2023 in News

Please find attached a soundbite by James Lorimer MP.

The deaths and injuries caused by a gas leak at the Angelo informal settlement on the East Rand are a powerful reminder of the cost of illegal mining.

Early reports indicate the gas leak was caused by illegal miners trying to refine ore, but illegal miners were not the disaster’s only victims. People living around the shack where the gas leak occurred, and their children were also killed or injured.

It was a tragic event, but drew attention because of the large number of victims.

Other tragedies caused by illegal mining happen daily in South Africa, from underground accidents to people’s lives being put at risk from illegal miners in their midst. Sadly it takes tragedies of major proportions to get media attention.

Through it all there is pious hand-wringing from the authorities, but insufficient action. There have been some police operations and some success against illegal miners, but mostly this is sporadic and not systemic. This means illegal mining kingpins are rarely caught and simply shift the area of their operations to where policing is absent.

The illegal mining foot soldiers are usually the ones caught. The huge supply of poverty- stricken and desperate people willing to do such dangerous work is testament to the serial failure of Southern African governments to lift their people out of poverty.

The DA has long called for a specialised police unit to be established and equipped to properly tackle these crimes. Government claims that is not necessary.

The poor and the powerless continue to pay the price of their indifference or their reluctance to act against illegal mining kingpins.

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