Some illegal miners in Sekhukhune, Limpopo, are not happy about the deployment of soldiers to illegal mining areas in the country.
They say they are forced into illegal mining due to government’s delay in regulating artisanal mining.
In September last year, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Mining and Mineral Resources visited the areas and acknowledged that there was a need to fast-track the issuing of mining licences to locals.
Over 3 000 soldiers were deployed to illegal mining hotspots last month.
Some illegal miners in Sekhukhune say the deployment will negatively affect their livelihood.
“The President [Cyril Ramaphosa] wants to bring soldiers here, while we are also soldiers who are just trying to fight hunger. They promise us jobs during elections, even now we are still waiting for these jobs here in Sekhukhune.”
“God blessed us with minerals and we are using these minerals to help ourselves. Through this deployment of soldiers, the President is saying we should die of hunger.”
Meanwhile, at least one mining forum in the area believes the presidential decree undermines development.
One of the members, Tokelo Mahlakone says, “We are very disappointed with the President’s decision to deploy the soldiers. Because people in this area are benefitting from this chrome mine, they are now able to put food on the table.”
“The government has failed us, they are the ones who should have legalised these mines so that people should be employed. If they had taken control of this from the start, we would not be here and talking about illegal mining today.”
The video reports more on the army deployment: