Despite a report by experts that the stones found at the KwaHlathi area near Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal are quartz crystals and not diamonds, locals are adamant that they will continue digging.
This is after the discovery of what was believed to be diamonds two weeks ago, caused thousands of people to flock to the area from various parts of the country.
After the release of the scientific report of tests on the stones by the government at the weekend, locals say they are able to sell the quartz to people from outside the province.
Although the number of diggers at KwaHlathi has decreased from the thousands at the end of last week, digging is still continuing. Some people still sleep at the site of the diggings, to stop others from exploiting it.
This is after a team of experts examined the transparent stones found in the area and found that it is common quartz crystals and not diamonds.
Residents say this could be a source of income:
However, Ntuthuko Qwabe says he is not convinced. “We will come here each and every day as we are not convinced by the government report, if they say it is not a diamond then why do they want to fence the area? We want to benefit here as there are people from remote areas who buy it but why do they buy it if it’s not a diamond?”
The diggers are selling the quartz crystals to whoever is interested. Scebile Phewa is one of the people who have been able to sell the quartz crystals, which she still refers to as diamonds. “ I sell them at R1 000 each and there is no discount. I have sold one diamond and I will use the money to buy school uniforms and other school needs.”
Samkelisiwe Mazibuko believes that the quartz crystals prove that the area is rich in mineral resources. “We have seen people who sold these stones and they get a lot of money, so that is why we cannot leave this area and we need money to support our families. We will dig down until we get the real diamond, nothing else.”
Thando Zwane has been bartering with the stones. “We have continued with digging as we hope that we will get the real diamonds as some of us here are exchanging with it and that is why I continue digging.”
Meanwhile, the community has been given until today to vacate the site.