Sibanye Gold, the biggest mining house in the Merafong area, is asking the community to help them in the fight against illegal miners.
According to a spokesperson from Sibanye Gold, illegal mining is a growing problem in the West Rand. Illegal miners, also known as zama zamas enter both abandoned and operating mine shafts at massive risk to themselves. In the last few years, hundreds of zama zamas have lost their lives in underground fires and falls of ground, and more have died during shootouts with security personnel or other illegal miners fighting over ill-gotten gains.
They are not only robbing South Africa of its gold and its jobs, but also robbing our children of a future. About 5 to 10 percent of South Africa’s annual gold production is said to be lost to illegal mining. The practice has led to many deaths, mines being looted and nearby communities being traumatised by the open warfare between rival groups of men seeking quick money.
The sheer scale of illegal mining in South Africa means that the mining industry, which is already struggling economically, will decline at a far faster rate. This could lead to job cuts down the line.
Every single mine worker has helped to contribute to the building of the gold mining industry in South Africa and this heritage is snatched away by those seeking to mine gold illegally. Above all else, illegal mining is a safety and security threat to both mineworkers and their families. The South African Police Service has confirmed that those entering mining shafts without permission are often carrying weapons. Most illegal mining in South Africa is also controlled by organised gangs, or syndicates, who peddle the gold on the black market.
Carletonville and its surrounding areas have been plagued by illegal mining for years, but the recent increase in incidents suggests the illegal mining of gold is reaching more dangerous levels. In 2014, Sibanye Gold recorded 166 incidents, which led to 273 arrests over the year. In the first three months of this year, there were 22 incidents and 46 arrests. “What we need to realise is that this is not just about illegal mining,” says the Sibanye spokesperson.
“This has an impact on business and job security and, therefore, on the livelihood of both mine employees and communities.
If you are aware of possible illegal mining activity or links, please report it to this anonymous, toll-free line: 0800 00 1987,” he concluded.