Following the exposé of how illegal miners have blasted near highly flammable gas and fuel lines in the Johannesburg area, could there be more to this story?
There are now calls for the legalisation of the illegal miners known as Zama Zamas.
It is also being suggested that perhaps the mines need to take greater responsibility for not sealing discontinued mine shafts.
Speaking to Bongani Bingwa, chief researcher at the Benchmarks Foundation David Van Wyk says he thinks that the City is overplaying the situation.
We have been working with the Zama Zamas in that particular area for more than five years now and there is no sign of blasting whatsoever.— David Van Wyk, Chief Researcher at the Benchmarks Foundation
We see them going underground and we see them going up and so on. We see the amount of rock that they carry and so on.— David Van Wyk, Chief Researcher at the Benchmarks Foundation
You know the scale of their operations doesn't validate blasting, they have to carry the rock on their backs and blasting would create the kind of rock that they could not handle.— David Van Wyk, Chief Researcher at the Benchmarks Foundation
He says the Department of Mineral Resources is issuing mining licenses for open cast mines all along Main Reef Road.
There are four or five open casts coming up very close to that gas pipeline. And in the open cast mines the gas pipes are not more than five meters deep and most of the Zama Zamas actually operate in underground workings that are 100 meters to 500 meters deep. So they are nowhere in close proximity to this.— David Van Wyk, Chief Researcher at the Benchmarks Foundation
He says people are shifting responsibility to the people that are least responsible for the problem.
CEO of the Council for Geoscience Mosa Mabuza also weighed on the conversation and says the liability of rehabilitation does not necessarily rest with the State.
What the State has done was to calculate the contingent liability associated with the rehabilitation of these derelict and ownerless mines.— Mosa Mabuza, CEO of the Council for Geoscience
And that has been estimated at approximately R60 billion and what the State has set aside on an annual basis is in the order of R70 million.— Mosa Mabuza, CEO of the Council for Geoscience
He adds that if something were to go wrong, there is a disaster management team nationally.
Every city has a disaster management committee that overlooks the risks that are inherent and any risk that may arise as a result of an incidence that may occur.— Mosa Mabuza, CEO of the Council for Geoscience
Listen below to the full interview: