The poor dig for dear life

After two weeks of anxiety, families of the five missing illegal miners of Barberton in Mpumalanga finally discovered their bodies and retrieved them.

After two weeks of anxiety, families of the five missing illegal miners of Barberton in Mpumalanga finally discovered their bodies and retrieved them.

This after being told by officials that, after using all their sophisticated machinery, they had called off the search-and-rescue exercise because it had become too dangerous to continue digging.

Though the risks of illegal mining cannot be over- emphasised, the truth is that for as long as the majority are stuck in poverty, many poor people will die trying to make a living dangerously.

But what is scandalous is that it took poor people, armed with their bare hands and rudimentary equipment, to recover the bodies.

It is something the community had to do for the families of the dead miners to get closure.

Now that the bodies have been recovered, they can now perform burial rites for their departed and give them decent burials - something they would have been denied had they listened to officials who said it was too dangerous to continue digging.

The poor people of this country are desperate, and many experience poverty first-hand on a daily basis.

Unless this cycle is broken by government creating enough jobs for those who can work, and providing social grants for those who cannot, such incidents will become the norm.

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