‘Illegal mining kills kids’

2011-06-25 16:21

Notorious sand mining operations in the Illovo River near Amanzimtoti on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast, which residents believe are the cause of several child drownings in the area, are set to be closed down at last.

The traditional authority responsible for the land on which the illegal sand mining is taking place is preparing to sue the operators for mining without permission.

KwaThoyama village has, according to residents, paid a heavy price for the mining, which has created deep pools in which ­local children have drowned starting in the 1980s.

Ngqabutho Bhebhe, the CEO of the Ingonyama Trust, under whose control the land falls, said the mining was taking place without permission from either the trust or the minerals and energy department.

“There is only one person who came to us for a permit and we didn’t approve the application. All these other miners are illegal and we will deal with them. We will sue them for not consulting us, the landowners,” said Bhebhe.

The local traditional leader, Nkosi Nhlosoyesizwe Hlengwa, confirmed that mining operations are taking place illegally and denied claims from the community that he had been paid off by the miners.

“I am not getting a cent from these sand miners. I even reported the matter to the department of minerals, but nothing has been done for the safety of the people,” said Hlengwa.

When City Press visited the area, there were more than 20 sandpits being worked by labourers. The diggers sell the sand to middlemen, who then supply it to concrete manufacturers.

Nonthando Maphumulo (31) is one of the community members who is bitterly opposed to the ­mining operations.

Her seven-year-old son, Ndumiso, drowned while trying to cross the river in 2008 because mining had deepened the water in the spot where he and other children regularly crossed the river.

She believes that the community’s safety is being compromised.

“My son is gone, but I think other people’s kids can be saved. These people don’t care about the safety of our children.

They dig holes where people are crossing. And they are not permitted to even work here,” said Maphumulo.

One of the sandpit operators, ­Sipho Fakazi, who works the area with his brother, Sifiso, said he had been given a permit to mine the ­area when he started operating in 2007.

Fakazi said: “I know that we are legally permitted to work here. I am not sure if that permit has ­expired or not, but we got it. There are so many people operating ­without a permit here.”

Joel Banduka, a buyer for sand suppliers VA Issacs, said his ­company had been doing business with the miners for several years.

He said he did not know whether they were operating legally or not.

“We sell this sand to Afrisam ­Cement after paying R1 000 per full sand truck. If they are operating illegally, I am afraid we didn’t know anything about whether they have permits or not,” said ­Banduka.

The newly elected councillor for the area, Khayalethu Khanyase, has met with the community to ­discuss ways of stopping the mining.

“We’ve agreed with our people that these mines should be terminated because they do not have any safety and security measures. They are life-threatening,’’ said ­Khanyase.

He said he would request that the minerals department and local government force the mines to close.

At the time of writing, the ­department had not responded to queries from City Press.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.