The gas tragedy that unfolded on Wednesday evening in the Angelo informal settlement in Boksburg on the East Rand can be laid at the door of the government because it fails to pay attention to illegal mining in the province.
According to Ruhan Robison, the DA’s spokesperson for community safety in Gauteng, there is not enough visible policing in mining communities because police stations do not have enough manpower or the necessary resources.
“The government has been repeatedly asked to implement a strategy to get rid of the illegal miners, but our requests have fallen on deaf ears,” says Robison.
The DA requests Faith Mazibuko, MEC for Community Safety in Gauteng, and Panyaza Lesufi, Gauteng Premier, to take action against the illegal miners.
The party wrote to Mazibuko to ascertain if there is a strategy to deal with illegal miners and when it will be implemented.
“The illegal miners not only harm Gauteng residents, but also themselves as hundreds of them die during illegal activities.”
A total of 17 people died on Wednesday evening, including three children, due to a gas leak in the Angelo informal settlement. The settlement is located at the foot of an abandoned mine.
Eleven people are currently being treated at the Tambo Hospital in Boksburg, including a one-month-old baby. One of the patients is currently receiving oxygen.
According to William Ntladi, spokesperson for Ekurhuleni’s emergency service, there was suspected to be nitric oxide in the cylinder and it is being used for illegal mining activities in and around the settlement.
Thousands of unregistered miners search for gold in abandoned mines under difficult and often dangerous conditions.
Johannesburg and surrounding areas are a commercial hub built around mountainous dumps of soil and pits left behind by generations of mining companies that began mining during a gold rush in the 1880s.
Boksburg was hit by a 5.0 earthquake last month, which is believed to be linked to the maze of underground tunnels and shafts linked to illegal mining in the area.
Lesufi visited the settlement on Thursday morning and Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, Gauteng MEC for health, visited the Tambo Hospital where the injured were admitted.
Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa expressed his condolences to the families of the deceased.
He requested that a deeper investigation be carried out to find out what may have caused this accident in order to avoid similar disasters in the future.