Legalise illegal gold mining

2017-04-26 06:00

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Illegal miners, commonly known as zama-zamas, are a law unto themselves.

They boldly stated during a television interview with the e-News channel that they are here to stay as slaves earning money good enough for their lords.

These zama-zamas said they earned R500 a day by grinding up to a 20-litre bucket full of rock. Furthermore, they said they earn an average of R50 000 a week or up to R100 000 if they are lucky enough.

Those interviewed said they spend six to 12 months underground drilling gold-rich rocks and sand. They confirmed they were illegal immigrants from neighbouring countries, while other miners are South African.

The money they earn go to their families back home.

The zama-zamas said they have their own security at the entrance and they pay R50 to gain entry to the shaft and an additional R50 for a bucket of gold dust on exit. They have networks that are supplying them with mining equipment, explosives and food. Their chisels are lined with diamonds stolen from Zimbabwean mines.

They buy a loaf of bread for R100, a 2 lCoke for R100, one cigarette for R10 and one battery for the head-lamp for R1 500. Drug suppliers also have a niche, since they can buy a match box containing dagga for R1 000.

The zama-zamas are part of a larger syndicate that feeds gold into the formal sector.

There are about 300 000 illegal miners in this country. These are individuals who are benefitting at the expense of the poverty-stricken population.

I believe the government should legalise illegal mining and issue permits for small-scale miners to operate in certain designated areas. In this way, hundreds could be legally employed.

The government could benefit by collecting tax and raise money for free education.

) Express Northern Cape welcomes anyone to contribute to the weekly co­lumn. There is no payment for writers. Send your opinion piece (not exceeding 500 words in Sotho or English) via email to ­boipelo.­mere@volksblad.­com. Writers are welcome to send articles of a spiritual nature.

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