Tunatazama - Community Monitors

The dire Consequences of Illegal Mining

Written by L.M.Z – FS
True Story that occurred in Welkom
04 Oct. 12

The Bible says the love of money is the root to all evil and if you do not bring forth good fruits you will be hewn down and cast into the furnace.

A very young black man hailing from the town of Vierjoenskroon in Free State who had the possibility of a bright future ahead of him as a qualified Electrician. He was known to those who were training with him at PMI Technical Training Institute, as “Lefa”.
A very cool fellow and a people’s person who was always willing to help when occasions required. I remember meeting him for the first time, he was standing outside the electrical workshop with his friend and I introduced myself with the other lady that I came with from Beatrix Mine to PMI Technical Training Institute.

He was a very approachable and talkative guy and he was also willing to help us in the Electrical Workshop with the modules that we may struggle with, but informed us that very soon he was going to leave to go back to Harmony Mine where he was going to do his Phase 4 on-job training. During lunch time we would meet in the cafeteria and he used to say that he will never get married because he loves money and he knows that he will fight with his wife over money, so that was his reason for not marrying. Not know that his love for money would bring forth such terrible fruits “(consequences)”. He liked buying chips at lunch, he really enjoy eating them almost weekly. Oh, how I can still see his dark brown face with his beautiful long treats a man of many words…

He finished his off- training at PMI and left to do his on-job training and not knowing that it was the last time we would see him alive. The following week of 19 Sept 2012(or 18 Sept) after work in the afternoon he took a taxi saying he was going to the hostel in Stein No.2 and that was the last time when his work senior saw him alive. On Thursday morning of 20 September 2012, when the catch was being lifted up they found half his body inside the catch and a stab wound on the side of his stomach. The same supervisor that saw him the previous day identified him and told the police that the clothing that he was wearing is the same clothing he was wearing yesterday.

Those who knew him well say he was an accomplice of the Zama Zama (Illegal miners) and he used to organise them and open the catch for them to go underground to mine illegally. I still can’t believe he is no more, young talent departed before it could be embraced.

The true story to what caused his death is still a mystery, some say he was stabbed by the Zama Zama’s and was found with his both legs broken, while others say he was trying to signal the operator and as he stepped out of the catch the catch moved down and that is why half of his body was found in the catch that was in the bottom on the shaft. We may never know the true source of his depth but we must learn from his mistakes.
He surely paid a heavy price for his mistakes and only if he knew, listened and obeyed he would still be making jokes with us today. In this story we learn that Lefa was not poor and hungry for him to pursue illegal mining, but he was greedy and loved one thing that would make his life on earth very short (writer’s opinion). Today we know and have proof that illegal mining is very dangerous, because the standard safety working procedures aligned with the Mine Health and Safety Act are not followed by those who mine illegally, and that is why most of them keep on dying e.g. previous months 85 illegal miners were killed by a gas underground a closed (non-operating) shaft in Welkom.

It is very important that South Africa teaches its youth the importance of working honourably for their income, because most of the youth today are fascinated by things that come easily like being tenderpreneurs and illegal miners, not knowing that easy come, easy go. It is better to suffer or struggle when you are still young, than when you are grown with limited opportunities.

Do What Is Right Today And Let The Consequence Follow. Let Lefa’s life be a lesson to you and do not desire for his story to be repeated in your own life.



GUBICO is a community based organisation in Free State Province receiving sharing and learning training via Monitoring School from the Bench Marks Foundation Monitoring Project.