Residents of Simile Township in Mpumalanga clash with illegal miners

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Residents of Simile Township in Sabie, Mpumalanga are calling on police to deploy specialised units in the area to fight illegal mining.

Angry residents demolished shacks used by illegal miners for their illegal activities, but the shacks have been rebuilt. Some residents now fear for their lives following clashes with the armed illegal miners.

Illegal mining continues to be a major problem in the country. Most disused mines have been revived as illegal miners search for precious metals.

Sabie Mountains borders Pilgrim’s Rest, the second Transvaal gold field.

Dangerous area

Illegal miners have erected shacks on the periphery of the Simile Township- and their new establishment is a no-go area.

It alleged that they have started mining activities including digging of shafts in the shacks.

Member of the community, Mpho Malomane says they are terrorised by the illegal miners.

“The problem started when one person from Sabie got stabbed by illegal foreigners. So it wasn’t the first time it happened, I think it’s the fifth person now that got stabbed by these people. So as the community we decided to take a stand against these people because if we are going to let it happen it means that we are going to be killed one by one,” explains Malomane.

30 undocumented miners arrested

Mpumalanga Police Spokesperson, Selvy Mohlala says more than 30 illegal miners were arrested during operations between the 16-17th of August and will appear in court soon.

Mahlala adds, “They were found in possession of various equipment that are utilised to mine illegally. They were found in Nkanini outside Sabie. All of them are going appear before the court on Monday. Majority of them are coming from Mozambique and all of them are undocumented foreign nationals.

The Chairperson of the local Community Policing Forum, Qwyneth Malomane says they are concerned that the illegal miners are easily granted bail and resume their illegal activities.

“We had three operations and I’ll say they were not successful because some illegal miners were arrested and were granted R1 000 bail. We are now calling on the government to deploy soldiers now to deal with the illegal mining. Sometimes we spent months without water because the water is being used for illegal mining activities,” Malomane adds.

Illegal mining is estimated to cost the South African economy around R 21 billion annually.