Zimbabweans among illegal miners in SA

R&M Writers

A Zimbabwean woman has defended her illegal mining activities in the Kleinzee area of the Northern Cape province of South Africa, saying she is driven by hunger and the need to put bread on the table for her family.

Despite the death of 13 illegal miners – who lost their lives in the area when a mine collapsed while they were underground – those at the forefront of the unlawful activities have vowed to keep on digging.

It is still not clear whether more bodies will be retrieved from the deadly mine and the deceased are yet to be identified.

Even a strong presence of police and private security officials around the area does not deter the illegal miners.

Hundreds of ‘Zama Zamas’ – as they are known – include nationals from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and South Africa. They say they are mining illegally due to lack of employment opportunities.

The Zimbabwean woman – Thando Zdobo – who came to South Africa for better opportunities revealed she has managed to eke out a living by selling food to illegal miners.

“I came to look for money because I am cooking for people. I dig also to find money that is why I came. Where we stay there is no jobs, we are struggling,” she said.

“I come from Zimbabwe, the situation for everyone in Zimbabwe is bad and that is why I came to make a living for our children,” she added.

Other illegal miners echoed similar sentiments.

“We are not giving up, it’s war we are fighting, we are not going anywhere these laws must change, these law of apartheid, of depression must change, capitalists must go away,” said one illegal miner.

“We are going to work here, we have changed the strategy because people are dying. We are trying to open those passes so that we can continue just like that we are not scared.

“We are here to work because, we have people who are depending on us, who put their needs on us, so we are here to solve that problem.”

However, some locals from Kleinzee – who preferred to remain anonymous bemoaned the increase in crime since the arrival of the illegal miners.

Others urged authorities to find ways of allowing them to operate so that they are able to make a living.


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