City of Gold: Where villagers search for all that glitters

2018-07-16 07:38

It's been just over two months since villagers in Kwamachi discovered "gold". News24's Mxolisi Mngadi revisits the site where people still wait for the chance to change their fortunes.

The "gold" site in KwaMachi, Harding in the far south of KwaZulu-Natal stands empty as security guards monitor every entrance. 

Once a hive of activity as villagers believed they had discovered "gold", it is now deserted as guards take shifts to keep people out.

This is a far cry from the scene that greeted News24 just over two months ago when hundreds of men, women and children filled the site with the hope that the "gold" would change their fortunes.

READ: 'Gold' rush hits tiny KZN village

The "gold" had been discovered by contractors who were digging for quarry stones meant to pave the area's gravel roads.

Then: Residents from the village of KwaMachi looking for "gold" earlier this year. (Supplied)

Now: The 'gold' site stands empty. (Mxolisi Mngadi, News24)

A security guard who accompanied News24 to the mine on Friday to take pictures said 15 guards worked during the day and 15 others worked at night.

"If the mine was not closed a lot of people would have been dead by now," he said.

"Women and men from the area and outsiders used to come here, day and night, carrying pick axes and shovels to dig for the gold. Since government officials came here and shut the mine down, only security personnel are allowed in. No locals are allowed to come and dig out the stones until it's proven that the stones are real gold," the officer, who asked not to be named, went on.

The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and a geoscientist visited the area soon after news of the discovery spread.

They took samples of the stones and told locals not to dig anymore until tests were done to determine whether the stones were real gold. They have not been back.

But some of the villagers still live in hope.

Not less than a minute after News24 exited the site, a man attempted to sell his "gold" to this reporter.

"Are you looking to buy gold?" he asked.

ALSO READ: KZN village 'gold' rush: 'I didn't go to school today, because I wanted to make quick cash'

The man who introduced himself as Senzo Mbuthuma, 24, said he had gold stashed at his home.

"I thought you were looking for gold. Since the site was shut down about two months ago, buyers also stopped coming to the area. Many people from other areas and provinces came in numbers to our village when the site was still operational," he said.

Mbuthuma said he made about R4 000 in May. He said he was one of the people who dug for the "gold" in May.

"I used the money to take care of my family by buying groceries and other stuff to improve our lives at home. Since the site shut down, we have not been able to make any money. The money we made from selling gold here really helped us a lot, especially the youth, since there are no employment opportunities in the area," he said.

Another resident Nomkhosi Jali, 27, said she also made some money when the site was still opened.

She said since its closure, they now rely on government grants for survival.

"Some people who dug enough gold still make a living out of it. They travel to the nearest towns like Port Shepstone and Durban to sell their gold," Jali said.

Even foreigners are believed to have travelled to the site in May to buy the "gold" from the diggers.

DMR spokesperson Ayanda Shezi said in an email that the Council for Geoscience was still "busy with the tests".

Umuziwabantu Mayor Dixie Nciki also said they were still in the dark on whether the substance discovered in her municipality was gold and were waiting to hear from the department.

She confirmed that the department had not come back to inform them of the results as yet, but said samples were taken to a lab in Pretoria in May.

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