[LISTEN] Emotional caller reacts to deaths of illegal child miners

Meschack Mbangula, from the mining community action group, says they have been unsuccessful in trying to engage the Department of Mineral Resources and the government to decriminalise illegal mining.

This would ensure the safety of zama zamas he says.

Recently, an estimated 40 illegal miners were reported dead after an underground explosion, at a mine in the Welkom, Free State.

Mbangula says illegal miners contribute a great deal to the economy because a lot of the minerals end up back in the formal market which they then sell for a lot less than the big mines.

Zama zamas are members of the community they are breadwinners.

Meschack Mbangula, national coordinator for the Mining Affected Communities United in Action group

Mbangula explains that should illegal mining be formalised it would create a lot of jobs in mining communities because there are around 6000 abandoned mines where zama zama's can be found.

Mbangula also says that mining licenses are expensive to acquire, making it even harder for the illegal miners to pursue formal mining.

The concerns being raised are very valid in terms of the unwillingness of big businesses to come to the party.

Thabo, caller

Also read: 'Formal sector has an interest in keeping this mining activity illegal'

Many illegal miners are young children.

They are ordinary young children and it is only out of desperation that they do what they do. I see their mothers and family members coming dressed in white and blue shawls, coming to their spirits, to pray for them.

Anne, caller

Take a listen to the rest of the interview here:


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