Illegal miners: Closing of shafts will worsen poverty

The so-called zama zamas have told Eyewitness News that many benefit from their work, including their families.

Illegal miners say they are aware of the dangers that come with their illegal trade. Picture: Victor Magwedze/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG – Illegal miners in Benoni have warned that if the trade is stopped many will suffer.

The so-called zama zamas have told Eyewitness News that many benefit from their work, including their families.

Fourteen bodies of suspected illegal miners were discovered on the East Rand this week.

One illegal miner says he is appealing to the government to make their work legal and assist them so more people can benefit.

“We know this is not legal but we have to do it. If government closes all these shafts, many people will fall into poverty. It’s not just us, some people sell food here.”

He says because of the lack of support many of their fellow miners get buried in the shafts they built themselves.

The man says the many dangers make it difficult for them to tell their families what they do.

“We just support our families, but we can’t tell them what we do. No parent can allow a child to do this kind of work.”

The police’s Lungelo Dlamini said no arrests have been made in the Benoni mass murder case yet and they are still appealing to anyone who knows the families of the deceased to come forward.

“The bodies have not yet been identified and we appeal to those whose family members are missing to come forward.”

Police say no arrests have been made in the murder of the 14 and they are still awaiting a post-mortem report to establish how they were killed.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)