Villagers up in arms about sand mining
Ncera villagers have demanded a stop to sand mining in their community, claiming money paid for the operation goes into the pockets of community leaders instead of benefiting everyone.
They also claim the area being mined is not being rehabilitated, putting their lives at risk. Trucks have been moving in and out of the village daily. The Daily Dispatch visited the area last week and saw an excavator loading two trucks.
Express Builders owner Siyabulela Moko admitted he was mining sand in the village, saying he paid over R30,000 to be able to do so.
“We buy the sand from the community and we pay them. If the community is not happy with how the money we pay is being used, that we can talk about,” he said.
Moko said his company only made one transaction with the community, which was “no less than R30,000".
We give them money. We are not paying peanuts. The community did not even want the money in cash form but a cheque
“We give them money. We are not paying peanuts. The community did not even want the money in cash form but a cheque.”
Asked if his company had a permit to mine, Moko said: “They will never allow it, and it could take a long time. I don't have to get a permit because the purpose is to get rid of the sand. It's like someone throwing dirt away and someone else sees value in it.”
The Daily Dispatch understands that a proper environmental impact assessment has not been done either.
In terms of the Minerals and Petroleum Resources and Development Act, it is illegal for anyone to prospect or remove or mine for, and produce, any mineral without an approved environmental management programme or mining right or mining permit.
Anyone removing sand or mining without an environmental management programme and who damaged the environment faces a R500,000 fine or imprisonment, or both.
Resident Mpumelelo Wethu called for a ban on what villagers term illegal mining.
“The mined areas not being rehabilitated causes environmental catastrophe during floods.”
Nokuvela Ngubelanga said he refused to move to allow the continuation of sand mining.
“Where are they expecting me to go? I live in a temporary shelter already. I told them I refuse to move just because they want to gain money from this illegal mining. People have been threatened and they moved because they fear for their lives.”
The community's chair, Zamikhaya Marangxa, told Dispatch on Monday that Moko gave the community R35,000. Marangxa agreed that Moko did not have a permit but he said the community did, which it obtained through a private consultant. He said about R20,000 of that money was paid to the consultant.
The money helps the community to buy tents and some necessities it needs, including paying for workers helping to relocate the temporary shelters
“The money helps the community to buy tents and some necessities it needs, including paying for workers helping to relocate the temporary shelters,” he said.
Asked if it was true that people's homes were relocated to allow the sand mining to continue, Marangxa denied it and said the residents were relocated to make way for a sports field.
DA councillor Sue Bentley said she was made aware of the sand mining towards the end of April and went to investigate.
“Not only is this illegal, but even worse is that the people doing it are forcing people to move their shacks so that they can get to the sand,” said Bentley.
Asked for comment, environment, forestry and fisheries spokesperson Albi Modise said the department was working on a response.