The Gauteng provincial legislature’s portfolio committee on community safety now wants to ensure that “illegal mining is completely eradicated”, as it results in “an enormous and devastating problem” in the province.
This comes after a total of 17 people, including children, died after a gas leak at an informal settlement at Boksburg on the East Rand.
It is suspected that the gas cylinder that caused this catastrophic incident was part of an illegal mining operation carried out by the zama-zamas in the area.
“Over the years there have been numerous deaths in Gauteng as a result of the illegal mining activities that are emerging in different parts of the province,” says Bandile Masuku, chairman of the committee.
“The committee is now calling on law enforcement authorities to set up dedicated and special units that can ensure that illegal mining activities in the province are fully eradicated.
“We also call on private security companies and community policing forums to form close partnerships with the police to eradicate all illegal mining in Gauteng.”
Masuku says the residents of the informal settlement must now work together with the police so that the culprits can be caught.
Panyaza Lesufi, Premier of Gauteng, says that in addition to the deaths, there are currently 11 people in hospital, one of whom is dependent on oxygen.
When emergency services arrived at the scene on Wednesday evening, they found many people unconscious after inhaling the gas.
Relatives of the victims gathered the next morning in search of information about their loved ones.
“This morning when I came to see what happened, I found out that my sister is in the hospital, but that my brother-in-law has passed away,” says Felsin Nyamuso.
The committee is now awaiting a detailed report from the management of the South African Police Service on what exactly happened, as well as what will be done to curb illegal mining.