In South Africa, the army mobilized to fight against illegal mining activities

2023-11-10 08:32:24

South Africa will deploy 3,300 members of the army to combat illegal mining activities, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office announced on Thursday 9 November. The country, rich in minerals, attracts thousands of illegal miners, whose activities disrupt businesses in the sector and are seen by residents as a source of crime.

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The army will help the police “carry out a reinforced anti-crime operation against illegal mining activities in all provinces”, declared a spokesperson for the president, Vincent Magwenya. The operation should last until April 2024 and should cost the State nearly 500 million rands (25 million euros), he added.

Known as “stay stay” (“those who try”, in Zulu), informal miners are often foreigners who come to South Africa to try to earn money by working in illegal wells at the cost of harsh living and working conditions.

The Johannesburg region is dotted with slag heaps, pits and deep trenches left by generations of miners, whose arrival during the gold rush in the 1880s led to the birth of the city. Access to old mines is often controlled by rival gangs fighting for control, leading to episodes of violence.

Illegal operations also affect operating mines, something companies have long complained about for the money it costs them and the threat it poses to their staff. In July, five people were killed near an abandoned slag heap in western Johannesburg. Last year, illegal miners were accused of raping eight women.

Read also: In South Africa, hunt for illegal minors after gang rape

High unemployment, illegal immigration and rampant crime are seen as crucial political issues ahead of the next general election in 2024.

The World with AFP

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