Parliamentary committee wants to haul over coals departments for failing to act against illegal mining

Police conducting a raid at an informal settlement in Johannesburg after a gun battle between rival groups left the community of Riverlea up in arms and concerned about their safety. File Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Police conducting a raid at an informal settlement in Johannesburg after a gun battle between rival groups left the community of Riverlea up in arms and concerned about their safety. File Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Aug 8, 2023


Members of the National Assembly’s portfolio committee on minerals and energy have called on various departments to explain why they failed to act on its recommendations to crackdown on illegal miners almost 12 months ago.

The committee said after its oversight visit last year, it tabled a report that was passed by the National Assembly.

A number of illegal miners were arrested after eight models were raped in Krugersdorp last July.

In the report that was approved by parliament, they detailed recommendations where relevant departments had to act to prevent crimes committed by zama-zamas.

They said the departments cannot only act each time something has happened.

In Riverlea, south of Johannesburg, the community was up in arms two weeks ago when rival groups of illegal miners clashed in the streets, leaving five illegal miners dead.

The SAPS, Johannesburg Metro Police Department and other units have since conducted raids in the nearby informal settlement and they arrested a number illegal miners.

Members of the ANC, EFF and DA in the committee agreed on Tuesday that several departments will have to be called to account for not acting on the recommendations of the committee.

ANC MP Mikateko Mahlaule, EFF MP Phiwaba Madokwe and the DA’s Cheryl Phillips said the issue of zama-zamas was a national priority.

They said the departments which were asked last year to implement the report of the committee, must explain why they have failed to do so.

The country cannot be pushed into action only after a disaster has struck.

Mahlaule said the departments must appear before MPs.

“We presented a report of our oversight to the National Assembly, which was adopted by the assembly with recommendations. Among the recommendations is that the intelligence services must be seized with this matter. We also recommended that the Department of Correctional Services, Home Affairs and police must work together to ensure that those illegal miners are deported,” said Mahlaule.

He said all the departments must have implemented the recommendations of the committee to prevent further crimes committed by the zama-zamas.

“It’s not that we are going there to say the zama-zama issue has resurfaced again, what are you doing? No. What have you done since Parliament instructed you? These meetings that they are having, we must be able to call them and say come and account on what you have done so that we get the symptomatic issues why it is resurfacing again. Because this thing of dealing with zama-zamas when a killing has happened is not going to work and it’s not going to eradicate this illegal mining. We made recommendations that if they are followed up by law enforcement agencies we will contain the scourge of zama-zamas,” said Mahlaule.

Chairperson of the committee, Zet Luzipho said they need to meet with all the departments which were mentioned in the report to implement the recommendations.

He said this was an urgent matter that would have to be attended to speedily.

Phillips also said they want to meet urgently to address the issue.

She said the issue of mining has gone beyond gold, and it has moved to chrome, with a number of trucks getting involved in accidents on the road when transporting chrome.

But Madokwe said it would be wrong if the committee did not call the responsible departments to account for their failure to act on the recommendations.

She said it would not make sense for the committee to conduct another oversight visit when issues that emanated from last year’s report have not been addressed by relevant departments.

“It’s important to stress that we cannot be a country that will always be alarmed and caught off guard by illegal mining to such an extent that the only time that we feel we need to respond is when a disaster happens.

“My understanding is that we have done oversight, we have submitted a report to parliament and parliament adopted that report. We are supposed to be holding people accountable for the tasks they were given.

“I think the report was submitted in September last year. We have done the talking. They are saying we must go and do oversight, it’s not going to assist us because of what was supposed to be done by every stakeholder that was given the task by this committee,” said Madokwe.

The committee agreed that it will have to call affected departments to give an explanation on failing to act on recommendations.

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