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City of Joburg accused of overstating threat posed by illegal mining

Chief researcher at the Bench Marks Foundation David van Wyk says that the problem is too complex to blame zama zamas.

FILE: Police remove illegal mining equipment and gold concentrate from an area of Matholeville. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – The City of Joburg has been accused of overstating the seriousness of threats illegal miners pose to several key landmarks in the city.

Metro officials say they are concerned that zama zamas are blasting nearly 30 centimetres from highly flammable gas pipes.

FNB Stadium, parts of Soweto and major highways in Joburg are apparently at risk.

Chief researcher at the Bench Marks Foundation David van Wyk says that the problem is too complex to blame zama zamas.

"The Department of Mineral Resources has got R50 billion to close and repair the environment where these abandoned mines are, but it hasn’t used a single cent of that money over the last decade. People are shifting responsibility to other people."

The Council of Geoscience's CEO Mosa Mabuza agrees.

"The danger is there [but] I don’t believe that the danger is indeed as alarmist as it is made out to be. There’s a need for us to constantly manage that risk, not only through the prism of zama zamas. There are all types of risks that are associated."

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)