KZN 'diamond miners' told to move off site — or police will step in

23 June 2021 - 17:59 By shonisani tshikalange
A man displays one of the shiny stones that diggers at KwaHlathi in KwaZulu-Natal initially believed to be diamonds.
A man displays one of the shiny stones that diggers at KwaHlathi in KwaZulu-Natal initially believed to be diamonds.
Image: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

The KwaZulu-Natal government has given the crowd digging for stones — initially believed to be diamonds — at KwaHlathi until Wednesday to leave the site.

On Wednesday, the provincial executive council said that, from Thursday, law enforcement operations would “kick in” and that those who hadn't left the site “will face the full might of the law”.

“The provincial executive council has further expressed its concerns about reports that illegal mining is still continuing in the area. The provincial government is urging people to move away from the site and abide by the law with immediate effect,” said the council.

This decision was taken during the council meeting chaired by premier Sihle Zikalala on Wednesday.

A minerals and energy department report last week revealed that what the people have been claiming to be diamonds are actually “quartz crystals”.

“As indicated, in two weeks’ time the government plans to visit the area to attend to service delivery needs already identified and to investigate further economic activities that may be undertaken in the area. The site will henceforth remain cordoned off and inaccessible to members of the public without permission,” said the council.

The council was also concerned that the crowds at KwaHlathi, which falls in the uThukela district municipality, were in violation of the country’s mining laws and flouted Covid-19 regulations.

“The executive council also expressed its concerns at the steep recent rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in the uThukela district. The rise was probably due to the influx of people into the area.

“The government is also concerned that schoolchildren are spending time at the illegal mine instead of being at school. There is concern over the long-term environmental degradation which may lead to flooding.”

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