Zama zamas‚ backed by BLF‚ protest against 'illegal mine'

Informal miners in Kimberley in the Northern Cape have protested against mining company Ekapa‚ which the miners claim has been operating without a permit.

 “It has come to our attention that Ekapa has been operating without relevant mining permit. When we mine the same land‚ we are arrested. Why?” the miners said in a statement released by rights group Action Aid.

The statement said miners had marched to the local office of the Hawks to lodge a complaint around a case that had not been investigated by law enforcement agencies.

“In September 2016 a case of theft and arson case No: SAP/506/9/16 was opened by Victor Taku Deputy Chairperson of Informal Miners in Northern Cape. Nothing was ever reported about this case‚” the miners said.

“We have been mining this land informally for 14 years and employing over 8‚000 people and being barred from contributing taxes of over R8 million monthly turnover generated from our informal mining sector.

“We have been trying to engage with our government on these matters for the past 14 years at national‚ provincial and locally levels without any progress.”

The Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA) and informal miners plan to meet with the provincial government on Thursday.

Mining company spokesperson Gert Klopper said it had recently acquired an eviction order against the illegal miners‚ which is being contested in the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Klopper works for Petra Diamonds‚ which last year entered into a joint venture with Ekapa in Kimberley. He said it was untrue that the company was operating without a licence.

Black First Land First (BLF) has thrown its weight behind the illegal miners.

“BLF further condemns the forced evictions of the Zama Zamas from Kimberley by the mining houses who operate like a criminal gang. The land belongs to blacks‚ including all the mineral wealth beneath it and on the mine floors‚” said the lobby group‚ which was founded by former Economic Freedom Fighters leader Andile Mngxitama.

A minerals department spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.