'Shove off, gold diggers!' Community takes on mining company
A MINING company linked to "Sushi King" Kenny Kunene, Central Rand Gold (CRG), is embroiled in a dispute with residents of Riverlea in Jozi for mining gold in their back-yards.
At the time of going to press, residents were drafting a petition to Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu to ask her to stop CRG from mining in the area unless their concerns were addressed.
This after a meeting with CRG officials at Riverlea's TC Esterhuysen Primary School on Saturday failed to yield any fruit and almost degenerated into an ugly affair.
The community complains that prospecting for gold in disused mine shafts next to their houses will pose a serious health hazard to them.
They are also scared that their property values will go down.
Already, they complain that they are inhaling mine dust from mine dumps next to an old section of the township.
Victor Mango, who is spearheading the campaign against CRG, says he discovered that CRG, in which Kunene is a shareholder, was mining in the area after he was choked by dust in his house about four months ago.
He said he investigated and saw men digging behind his house.
"They told me they were from CRG and were prospecting for gold there. They said they were awarded mining rights long before our houses were built," he says.
"They ignored us when we asked why they weren't using water to suppress the dust."
Mango says they wrote a letter to the Department of Mineral Resources' (DMR) Gauteng office and complained.
"DMR sent officials, who stopped them from mining here. They told them they should, among others, rehabilitate the old shaft before continuing with their operations.
"They stopped for a month but at a previous meeting at TC Esterhuysen Primary School they indicated they would mine here whether we like it or not."
CRG CEO Johan du Toit says they were awarded rights to prospect for gold in the area and they were engaging with the community to address their concerns.
"I don't think we received many complaints. They came from only a few people," he says.
Du Toit says they have no reason to panic because this is not going to be a big operation.
"We're only going to dig a small hole for operations and won't erect a permanent structure there because this is going to be a short-term project," he says.
Du Toit also confirms that they will have a meeting with the Department of Education tomorrow to discuss their concerns about the operations next to the school.
Shabangu spokesperson Zingaphi Jakuja says they got three complaints relating to the matter.
"We are still to confirm if the area in question falls within the approved mining area," she says.
Jakuja says if the CGR which was awarded mining rights in 2008, is allowed to explore for gold in the area, the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act and the Mine Health and Safety Act will ensure that there are no health risks for the residents.