Tunatazama - Community Monitors

Nyakallong’s polluted air

Khanyisile Matsaba

The name itself says it all, Nyakallong simply means the place of rejoice. With the current conditions that people find themselves living under, one can hardly mention the name with joy and happiness.

It all started in the 1950s when mining was first introduced to the community. As a result of the terrible stench that used to come from the tailing dam that was adjacent to one section of the community. That section was even called STINKDAM, an Afrikaans word for smelly dam.

The mining company that used to operate back then was Lorraine Gold Mine and it used to have means of regulating the flow of the water so that it could not reach the residential area. With the reopening of the old shafts by Harmony things took a turn for the worst. As the township was growing and more land was allocated to people for residential purposes, we witnessed the encroachment towards the ventilators and the mine dump. These ventilators are emitting hot air from the underground that contains all sorts of chemicals that are laced with poisons that make people who reside in their close proximity very sick.

During the workshop that was organized by the Benchmarks Foundation and the community on the 17th March, people were reminiscing about how things were better during the days of Lorraine Gold Mine and Anglo American. Another problem is the mine dump that is not controlled to reduce the dust that is blown into the residential area. Young children are suffering from asthma and adults have skin irritation problem.

Through the help of the Benchmarks Foundation we were able to know that the mine tailing dust is the major cause of lung cancer, while the radiation is the major cause of cervical cancer in women of child bearing age and children born with cerebral palsy.

This situation continues to escalate and will remain as it is until someone does something to remedy the situation.