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Bheki Dlamini
 
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The Social/Economic Impact of Mining on Merafong

07 May 2014, 16:43

FARMER’S ROAD IS NOW A DIRTY ROAD

Once upon a time in Carletonville, now commonly know as Merafong City, there was a road leading to Khutsong Township from Carletonville. The banks of this road, as the name suggest, led to lush farms, from a peach farm found a few meters from where the road starts to sunflower and maize farms further along the road.

To the north of the road ran a small stream known as Wonderfonteinpruit, which flows through a nature reserve and into a dam just before the only road that leads into Khutsong Township. This dam used to be abuzz with tourist activities as tourist came to fish and enjoy a stay at the resort. The year, 1996, or so.

The activities on this road alone, the farming and tourist attraction, provided various jobs to the locals that depended only on these for survival.

The road that was named Farmer’s Road lived up to that name. Well, until a few years back when everything changed. The farmers left everything behind, we never knew why. The farmhouses have now become ruins and less than a shadow of what they used to be.

I drive on that road every time I visit my family and friends in Khutsong Township and I am reminded of the riches I used to see on that road. I used the road again when I went to fetch my mother and take her to the polling station.

Today, the land is just barren. Even the peach trees are slowly dying. Not that we have seen a single peach since the farmers left.

What used to be a resort has become a health hazard. Warning signs have been erected and only the foundations of what used to be buildings are visible on the southern side of the dam.

Well, the story ends with hundreds of people that used to earn an income and keep the economy of the place running jobless and destitute. These people have taken refuge in the dilapidated houses left by the farmers. With no income and exposed to the “contaminated” waters of the Wonderfonteinspruit.

Source of the problem:

Mining activities.

You see, on my article of the 2nd of May, titled: What Happened To Sustainable Mining: Will Merafong Become a Ghost Town, I was raising a concern about the eminent potential of this mining town becoming a ghost town.

One comment alluded to the fact that the Mining Charter did not cater for diversification. It only catered for transformation. This is not far from the truth. Parts of Merafong have, infact already become Ghost Towns, or ghost sections, you get the point.

Indeed, this place has been transformed into a wasteland over the years.

The source of the problem is “contamination” from mining activities around Merafong carried by the Wonderfonteinspruit. When the farmers raised this point the mining houses probably paid them off.

But what about the people left behind?

All praise to the various scientific organizations that continue to tirelessly pursue the possible remediation of the damage done to the environment. A simple Google search will bring up many scientific papers on the impact of the mines on the Wonderfonteinspruit.

My question is, will this remediation remediate the losses inflicted on the lives of those that used to depend on these farms? What about those who used to depend on the water? Not forgetting those whose lives were endangered by the “contaminated” water?

Please follow my next article on this topic for more information….

Thank you for reading and, should you know anyone that was or continues to be affected by this, please let me know.

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