PODCAST | The Story: Could the Jagersfontein dam tragedy have been prevented?

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Hundreds of residents in the small Free State town Jagersfontein have been displaced after a diamond mine dam burst and flooded the area on Sunday.
Hundreds of residents in the small Free State town Jagersfontein have been displaced after a diamond mine dam burst and flooded the area on Sunday.
  • Almost 400 people were left homeless after a mine dam burst in Jagersfontein on Sunday.
  • One person was killed, and more than 70 injured.
  • The mine's owners pledged R20 million to assist residents affected by the disaster.

Hundreds of residents in the small Free State town of Jagersfontein were displaced after the dam at a diamond mine burst and flooded the area on Sunday.

Some residents were left with just the clothes on their backs - and many are now asking whether this disaster could have been prevented.

This week on The Story, we speak to News24 journalists Iavan Pijoos and Lisa Steyn.

Pijoos spent the week in Jagersfontein and described the disaster as "devastating".

He said cars had been swept away and houses destroyed.

READ | Jagersfontein disaster: Dubai-based owner says survey showed dam was 'safe, secure'

Pijoos said he interviewed a man who was searching for his wife.

The man showed the journalist an area "where there was nothing, but before the disaster, there were 10 houses there, and only the foundations were left".

He said residents were angry because they believed the disaster could have been prevented.

Pijoos said that, in February last year, the mayor warned that, if the dam should collapse, "it would ruin lives, and now that is the reality".

News24 journalist Lisa Steyn said the water and sanitation department had been monitoring the tailing dams and had raised concerns about non-compliance with the mine's owners, Jagersfontein Developments, about its water licence. 

Steyn said it seemed "the department took a collaborative approach and gave concessions and extensions up until this happened". 

She added, "as to who will be held responsible, we will have to see".

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