Scores of rural dwellers have descended on Kwahlanati near Ladysmith to ‘mine’ for ‘diamonds’, raising government concerns about health and safety in the area.
Several people have posted videos and images on social media of what they believe to be large diamonds that they have found in Kwahlanati.
Illegal miners posted photographs of their ‘diamond’ discoveries on Facebook.
Watch one of the videos of the mining here:
Zikalala’s spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said the provincial government had noted with concern, the reports of illegal mining activity taking place at KwaHlathi outside Ladysmith where throngs of people had gathered to mine what they believe are diamonds.
“This activity follows the discovery by some of what they believe to be the precious stones. Images and videos have been circulating on social media where some involved in the illegal mining are seen celebrating in belief that they had struck it rich,” Mabaso said in a statement released on Sunday.
He said the matter had been referred to the national Department of Minerals and Energy, which had promised to dispatch enforcement and compliance unit teams to conduct a site inspection.
He added that a team from Mintek (the council for Mineral Technology) and GCS (the Council for Geoscience), which will include a geologist, would be dispatched to inspect the stones residents had discovered.
“We are deeply concerned about the images showing that some people coming from as far as some of the neighbouring provinces and towns are flocking into kwaHlathi,” Zikalala said.
“We are worried that if not brought under control the situation could result in chaos and a possible stampede. We call for order and calm and urge all those involved to cease their operations and vacate the site so as to allow the DMRE to conduct a proper inspection of the site and of what has been discovered there,” Zikalala said.
Zikalala added that the illegal mining activities could be in violation of the COvid-19 regulations.
“It is also very concerning that in the wake of a looming third wave we have so many people gathered in one spot, not maintaining social distancing and also not wearing masks. This could prove to be a super-spreader and might put at risk many people including those who are not part of the mining”.
The provincial government will work closely with the SAPS, the DMRE, the traditional communities, traditional leadership and the local and district municipalities to bring calm to the area and to ensure that the relevant information filters through to community members.