Call for fast tracking of legalising small-scale mining amid growing safety concerns

todayAugust 1, 2023 28

share close
Non-governmental organisation and watchdog, Bench Marks Foundation, has added its voice to calls for government to fast-track the regulation of the small-scale mining industry in order to manage the turf wars within the sector.
The call comes amid a probe into the death of five people, suspected to be illegal miners, in Riverlea, south of Johannesburg.

The bodies were discovered at the Zamimpilo informal settlement on Sunday morning.

Police say preliminary investigations suggests that the five died following a shootout between two rival groups of illegal miners.

Bench Marks Foundation’s Makhotla Sefuli says government should give Zama Zamas permits in order to operate legally and pay taxes like everyone else in the country.

Sefula says the amount of money that the industry makes is one of the main reasons why people risk their lives by engaging in the violence.


On Monday, angry residents took to the streets to vent their anger over the illicit mining activities in their community, with some saying they now live in fear.

Police have since promised to deploy the Tactical Response Team (Amabherete) to monitor the situation.

Police spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Mavela Masondo, has urged community members to assist the police with information that could lead to any arrests.
Police Minister Bheki Cele visited the area and assured community members that they will respond to their complaints within 24 hours.
The Police Minister appealed to community members to not politicise the crisis, urging them to unite in the fight against the scourge that has besieged South Africa.
According to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, while historically illegal mining was associated with derelict and ownerless mines, it is now having an impact on operational and licensed mines.
The South African economy and the mining sector reportedly lost about R49 billion in 2019 to illegal mining, while mining companies are said to spend over R2 billion on security to prevent these illicit activities.
To mitigate the situation, the Mineral Resources Department is rehabilitating derelict and ownerless mines.
In March last year, it also published the Policy on Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining, which is aimed at formalising the industry and enable economic activity primarily for South Africans. It also caters for legally documented migrants.
So far, at least 630 miners have been trained to operate as artisanal miners in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, and North-West.

Written by: Nokwazi Qumbisa

Rate it