Thursday, April 22, 2021

Counselor criticises Kgatleng District Council over illegal mining

The Counselor for Bokaa, Gerald Bodika, has accused the Kgatleng District Council of involvement in illegal mining, describing it as “embarrassing”.

Speaking to Sunday Standard, the councilor said, “The Kgatleng District Council was illegally mining sand at Bokaa.”

He said the place that was mined covers an area of more than 15 hectares and has about 20 open pits, which he said are a threat to public safety.

Bodika wondered why “our own council could be involved in such illegal activity, which has now led to the deaths of three primary school students”.

Bodika revealed that the council has been mining sand in Bokaa for about six years, adding that they hired about two night watchmen at the open pits.

He said although they were a good number of private companies that were mining there illegally, the council took a leading role, deploying its own machinery at the pits and hiring night watchman to guard them.

Samuel Seloba, one of the hired watchmen, said “I was hired by the council as a night watchman; the pits have become a danger to the villagers.”

Bodika charged that some of those companies illegally mining there were hired by the council to undertake some projects.

He said some time ago, one student drowned in those open pits and the Council had to pay about P10 000 to the deceased’s family.

“We are aware of those open pits and they are worrisome,” said Moemedi Letina, the Kgatleng District Commissioner, when contacted for comment. He explained that investigations were carried out to establish who was given a license to mine the area but it was not exactly clear exactly who was licensed because there were no records from the Landboard Office.

“It is true that there are those allegations that the Council had its share in mining the sand some years back but I am not in a position to confirm or deny that,” he said, but added that after the investigation “we tried to seek assistance but our efforts were futile”.

He said the area needs to be rehabilitated but will need quite a bit of money, which they currently don’t have.

“We tried to fence the area but it was not viable because people cut the fence, defeating the effort to restrict children from going into the area,” he said.

Last week, two children drowned in the open pits and post mortems are awaited before they can be released for burial.

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