Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy says it is urgently planning to visit Jagersfontein following the mudslide that has devastated the area.
At least one person has died, 40 have been taken to hospital and two others are missing after a dam wall of a disused mine burst, causing the mudslide, and destroying homes and infrastructure in the area.
“We are going to consult with the Portfolio Committee on Water Affairs and Sanitation with a view to conduct an urgent joint oversight visit to the affected area because we appreciate that underground, surface and dam water resources fall under their purview.
“We reiterate our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and friends, and assure them of our support during this very difficult time. May the… deceased rest in eternal peace,” the committee’s chairperson, Sahlulele Luzipo, said.
Meanwhile, the same committee, together with the Portfolio Committees on Police and Home Affairs, conducted an oversight visit to the Sekhuhkhune District in Limpopo over the weekend in a bid to determine to extent of illegal mining in the area.
Illegal mining has come to the fore since the gang rape of eight women, allegedly at the hands of illegal miners, near Krugersdorp in Gauteng.
During their Limpopo visit, the three committees were told that some community members have resorted to illegal mining as a result of unsuccessful mining licence applications.
According to community members, they enter into the illegal sphere in order to feed their families because all mining rights in the area belong to big mining groups.
Luzipo called on the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) to resolve the licensing challenges.
“[While] we understand your frustration, however, we cannot promise to resolve the issue of licensing. The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy must help… so that the community can also get an opportunity to participate in the mining business,” Luzipo said.
According to a statement released on behalf of the three committees, the illegal miners are targeting platinum, chrome and gold.
“In an effort to thwart illegal mining activities in the area, the committees were informed that the South African Police Service embarked on a joint operation to fight illegal mining activities in the area and there has reportedly been progress.
“The committees also heard that when illegal miners are pushed out of Sekhukhune, they often relocate to other parts of the province, in areas such as Mopani and Waterberg districts, or they move to other provinces to continue their illegal mining activities,” the statement read.