Minerals Resources Dept asked to decriminalise illegal mining

The parents of a boy (5) who fell into a mine shaft in Boksburg six months ago have criticised the government for not taking action against non-operational mines that aren’t properly sealed.

FILE: The disused mine near Boksburg where rescue operations for 5-year-old Richard Thole were halted on 28 February 2017. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The parents of a five-year-old boy who fell into a mine shaft in Boksburg six months ago have criticised the government for not taking action against non-operational mines that aren’t properly sealed.

The mother and father joined hundreds in a march to the Minerals Resources Department in Pretoria on Tuesday demanding the scrapping of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act.

They also want illegal mining to be decriminalised.

Meshack Mohlala says he has not found peace since his son fell down an abandoned mine shaft six months ago.

He says the situation devastates him.

“I feel bad. I spend most of my times aching and thinking how my son may have lived his last moments.”

At the same time, the Mining Affected Communities United in Action organisation (Macua) has called on the government to decriminalise illegal mining.

Macua handed over a memorandum at the Department of Mineral Resources in Pretoria on Tuesday, saying the amount of jobs created in the country is simply not enough.

Over 200 supporters marched to the Department of Mineral Resources offices demanding swift and decisive action by the department.

Macua leader Meshcack Mbangola says the mining charter does not represent the views of communities from which the mining companies are operated.

He says from community development programmes to rehabilitation of closed mines - residents should be involved.

“Communities must be part and parcel of decision making because they are the ones who are affected by mining.

A zama zama says he has no job and illegal mining is the only work which helps put food on the table.

“I want the government to free me. Because even if I get diamonds, I won’t even make a bomb with the diamond. I want to sell it and get money and chow.”

Macua has given the department up to seven days to respond to their grievances and says if the department remains quiet, they will call on for a mass demonstration.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)