Mine management of Jagersfontein Developments is adamant that there was no indication of a looming threat.
The mine’s legal compliance officer, Marius de Villiers, says they complied with all safety measures.
However, on Sunday, a dam belonging to the mining company burst flooding the area.
One person was killed and several homes were destroyed.
De Villiers was speaking during a visit by Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe to the sludge devastated town.
He says, “A new licence was issued and that licence was what we operated on up until now and we have complied with all those conditions, that’s why I am saying the last and I have said it previously as well, the last engineering report that was submitted by the mine was in June because we have to do that quarterly. We have complied with that.”
Some residents of Jagersfontein are salvaging their meagre belongings after their houses were damaged.
Scores of displaced residents have been sheltered at a local church. Learning and teaching have been affected in the disaster-stricken area with several roads inaccessible due to the sludge.
Residents of Jagersfontein continue to try to comprehend what happened following the disaster. Some say they are relieved they managed to escape unhurt.
One of the distraught residents, Mpoi Ntaitsane claims that the family residence and agricultural implements have been washed away, among other things.
“At the moment what we can account for is we lost a vehicle, we lost pretty much everything that was in the garage, the entire garage is gone. Parts of the house are also gone. So I’ve lost livestock, implements and I’ve lost tools for my stock as well. There’s no account, our clothes everything literally nothing, so now we are just back to try to see what is in it that we can salvage.”
Communities affected by the burst dam continue to receive humanitarian aid:
Humanitarian aid organisation, Gift of the Givers is expected to spend a week in the area to help with relief measures. The organisation’s relief coordinator, Corene Conradie, says they will provide food and clothing including animal feed.
“And so, we will provide the feeding for those families and also clothing is in need as everything has been washed under the sludge. So, we will also provide clothing. Apart from the communities, there will be aspect of families. This is the biggest humanitarian crisis at the moment. Because the sheep are unable to eat, the grass or anything from the ground it’s been contaminated. So we are looking at providing food and the farmers have been calling for us to assist them,” said Conradie.
The South African Red Cross Association is also on hand to assist affected communities.
Provincial manager Claudia Mangwegape says, “We have identified their needs for blankets, mattresses, clothes as well as water at this moment. So, we are trying to assist as much as we can, so we brought all the relief items. We will be working with other NGOs close with the Department of Social Development and other partners.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa has applauded the residents of Jagersfontein for the manner in which they handled the disaster when the mine dam burst on Sunday.
Ramaphosa appealed to residents not to lose hope as the government is doing everything in its power to restore the dignity of the people. Ramaphosa told the affected residents that the government will work tirelessly to rebuild destroyed houses.
“We are here to come and help and pledge support and help the people of Jagersfontein. So, we are grateful for that, so in the end, you are going to have three layers of government, you’re going to have national government, as you can see, we are here. You’re going to have the provincial government, they geared into action immediately. I was very impressed with Mrs Ntombela as she acted fast with her MEC,” said Ramaphosa.
Multidisciplinary investigations are being conducted to determine the cause of the disaster.
At least 20 people admitted to hospital following mine dam burst in Jagersfontein, Free State: