“People who are not criminals are staying in informal settlements without toilets, water and basic services and the Northern Cape premier, Sylvia Lucas, does not even care about that.”
These allegations came from representatives of illegal miners who call themselves zama zamas during a peaceful march to the premier’s office on Monday, 3 April.
The march was in protest of an eviction order issued to them by the Northern Cape High Court in demand that they leave the premises where they mine and live.
They demand the right to mine on the surface of the land in Floors, Kimberley, where they have been illegally mining for the past 14 years.
The miners, who have erected shacks on the land that reportedly belongs to De Beers Consolidated Mines, further demand basic services like toilets and water on the premises.
They want the Office of the Premier and the Department of Mineral Resources to work hand in hand in an effort to get the right to the land they claim they are being bullied off by De Beers Mine, Superstone, Ekapa Minerals, Crowd Resources and Petra Diamonds. Under the auspices of the Mining Affected Communities United in Action union (Macua), about 300 marchers handed over a memorandum to Cheslain Amerika from the premier’s office as Lucas was reported to be in Dubai.
The court order threatened the demolition of any structure or material used to mine on the premises if the respondents refused to move from the area.
In the memorandum read by Kagiso Mosiapoa, Macua further requested the availability of a mobile clinic on the site at least once a week.
The zama zamas complained that they were being “spat out” after serving the purpose of being an electioneering ground where they had been informed by politicians that they belonged to Ward 2.
“We were not seen as illegal miners, neither as enemies, when politicians used us for their election campaigns, assuring us that we should not stress since they would support us.”
The group lamented their mining equipment being confiscated in this “fight between the hungry and the greedy”.
“We have invested a lot of money in this material that the police continue to confiscate.”
They rejected the threat to their livelihood and right to work and earn a decent living on their own land, Mosiapoa read.
They further warned government against turning citizens into enemies through these companies.
“The Department of Mineral Resources has been engaging with us continuously and lying to us that it will assist us until today. We are the sons and daughters of this land and thus do not expect anyone to tell us how to mine our land.”