Environmentalists tackle illegal Duzi sand-miners

2014-02-06 00:00

A MONTH of crackdowns on sand-mining syndicates operating on the uMsunduzi and the uMngeni rivers by the canoeists’ environmental group the Dusi Umgeni Conservation Trust (Duct) and local municipal officials has blown the cover on many of these covert operations.

In what has proven to be a much larger operation than previously expected, local government officials have been able to make inroads into the numerous sand-mining syndicates that are in operation along these two major water ways in the build-up to the Dusi Canoe Marathon starting at Camps Drift on February 13.

Duct’s Field Manager Bart Fokkens has been fully involved in trying to bring an end to the numerous illegal operations that are threatening the river system as well as the wildlife of the areas in which they operate.

Fokkens, along with the government officials, was able to foil a few of the operations.

“Since we last spoke, there has been quite a lot of work done on trying to stop these people,” Fokkens said. “We have seen about 10 different operations in the last few months with two of them being major operations.

“These two operations were running with five tipper trucks and three tipper trucks respectively, which means that they are taking huge amounts of sand from the river,” a worried Fokkens mentioned.

With such a lucrative industry having been in operation for a while, it is often difficult as well as dangerous for officials to get involved in the dealings of these people. Fokkens understands this threat and, although he is doing everything in his power, believes the authorities need to get involved.

“I have been in the field a lot recently and have been threatened, which is really intimidating. As much as I want to stop what is going on, I have a family that is far more important to me and it is the job of the authorities to get involved and sort out the problem.”

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