Man arrested after night of unrest at KwaMachi 'gold' site

2018-05-31 14:14
Residents from the village of KwaMachi in Harding, KZN, digging for 'gold'. (Supplied)

Residents from the village of KwaMachi in Harding, KZN, digging for 'gold'. (Supplied)

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A man was arrested at the KwaMachi "gold" site in Harding, KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday morning after a night of unrest where police had to use teargas to disperse a crowd of "gold" diggers.

Thousands of people have been flocking to the village on the far south of the province, after construction workers digging for quarry stones discovered a material that resembled gold last week.

The quarry stones were meant for the paving of gravel roads.

It has not yet been established whether the compound is in fact gold.

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

KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala confirmed that a 29-year-old man had been arrested at the site in the early hours of Thursday and that preliminary investigations revealed that a gun found in his possession had allegedly been stolen.

The man was expected to appear in the Harding Magistrate's Court on Thursday.

On last night's unrest, Gwala said: "It is alleged that community members cut the barbed wire that was used to cordon the area... Police are on scene to monitor the situation."

As news of the discovery spreads, hundreds of people have been travelling to the area to dig for "gold" in the hope that it will change their fortunes. 

The site had been secured and a sample of the discovered substance has since been sent to a laboratory in Pretoria to identify it.

Umuziwabantu mayor Dixie Nciki told News24 that the results were expected by Friday.

Department of Mineral Resources officials will also be on site for an inspection, Nciki said.

ALSO READ:'Gold' rush hits tiny KZN village

Department spokesperson Ayanda Shezi confirmed that the officials, along with a Council for Geoscience geologist, would visit the site to "establish what is happening, before any further steps can be taken".

People carrying axes, pickaxes, shovels and chisels have been flooding the site, after finding their way there in bakkies, cars and taxis.

Nciki said this had resulted in traffic jams on the roads leading to the quarry and the gridlock continued late into the night.

Police were monitoring the site.

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