The Mail & Guardian last week featured a story on the illegal miners who are working in the abandoned (and sometimes still operational) mine shafts across Johannesburg.
The article looked at the real experiences of unlawful miners, or zama zamas, the conditions of their underground work spaces, the health risks they are exposed to and the criminal activities often accompanied by their day to day extraction of minerals.
The Human Rights Commission also released a comprehensive report on the issues and challenges faced by those who go underground and mine illegally. The report makes recommendations to various arms of government, civil society and law makers on how to tackle this human rights issue.
CapeTalk’s Redi Tlhabi Speaks to Janet Love, National Director of the Legal Resources Centre and a Commissioner at the South African Human Rights Commission:
As the commission we prefer to use the term artisanal mining (rather than illegal miners) because what we talking about is describing the nature of the mining operations itself.— Janet Love, National Director of the Legal Resources Centre
According to Love some of the formal mining operations, through their own non-compliance with their obligation (illegal activities), often create conditions that encourage these artisanal miners.
- The formal mining operations don’t commit to ongoing environmental management processes.
- They don’t commit to activities that are in keeping with the development plan of the local area.
Both of these two additional sets of activities are very often not complied with and not adequately monitored by government— Janet Love, National Director of the Legal Resources Centre
Here are some of the twitter responses to the topi:
@RediTlhabi Companies shud have exit strategy incorporating communities as beneficiaries 2 take over.This will address crime n create jobs.— Matlhodi Malope (@matlhodi_malope) September 2, 2015
@RediTlhabi Legitimate entrepreneurship,they aren't stealing from anyone,however I fear for their safety,these abandoned mines aren't safe— Major General (@EliasChinemore) September 2, 2015
@RediTlhabi More efforts should be put into formalising the informal mining sector instead of sealing abandoned mine shafts, doesn't work!— Unflavoured-Self (@Kagiso58) September 2, 2015
Listen to the full conversation on The Redi Tlhabi Show: