Black mark on society

THE tragedy that has been unfolding in Welkom since the begining of the week speaks as much to the levels of greed as it does of the desperation of our people. It is also a black mark against the apathetic attitude that the authorities have shown to the pirate plundering.

THE tragedy that has been unfolding in Welkom since the begining of the week speaks as much to the levels of greed as it does of the desperation of our people. It is also a black mark against the apathetic attitude that the authorities have shown to the pirate plundering.

At the last count, the bodies of about 80 people who perished while illegally prospecting for gold at Harmony Gold's Eiland shaft had been found.

Nobody knows for sure how many more remain buried in the belly of the earth.

While there can be no real sympathy for those who die knowing that they are committing a crime, the greedy fat-cats who are the de facto new mine bosses should shoulder the blame for the catastrophe.

A question has to be asked of the police too. It is well known that illegal mining takes place all the time. At this particular mine, an entire economy was known to have been set up to supply what was for all intents and purposes a "normal business activity".

The law enforcement agencies have allowed the Eiland shaft to become a mini-Somalia, where ordinary laws of a modern society are secondary to the whims of the most brazen and best armed.

Harmony Gold's response has not been any better than that of the police. Shrugging their shoulders and blaming it on the pervasive sense of lawlessness in that community does not qualify as leadership. We must demand better of the mining houses and the authorities.

Let the Eiland shaft be the last we tell such a sorry tale ofuncontrollable greed.

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