Survival International has urged diamond buyers to boycott a top Bond Street jeweler, claiming that the jeweler is part of a new diamond mine which is being constructed inside the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve and could jeopardize the return of Basarwa to their ancestral land.
Survival International is holding a protest┬áon Tuesday┬áoutside Graff Diamonds, in New Bond Street, allegedly to draw attention to the plight of Basarwa.
Graff Diamonds recently bought a 10 percent stake in Gem Diamonds, the company which Survival International claims will construct the new mine inside the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve.
Numbering around 3,000, Basarwa were evicted from the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve in 2002 and resettled elsewhere.
In late 2006, the High Court in Lobatse ruled the eviction was illegal, paving the way for their return – although many have yet to do so.
During the hearing, government denied it had driven Basarwa out to make way for diamond mining, arguing instead that Basarwa needed the schools and clinics provided in the new resettlements.
The London Informer quoted Survival International as saying plans for a diamond mine in the reserve – to be dug next year by mining firm Gem Diamond – will create a new obstacle for Basarwa’s return to their homeland.
There is no suggestion that Graff, or Gem Diamonds, has forced the Basarwa off their land, but Survival International believe Graff’s share holding means it has a “moral imperative” to consider the fate of the bushmen.
The London Informer further quoted the organisation saying “most leading mining and jewellery companies have an ‘indigenous policy’ based on consultation and consent with the people who own the land, and if Graff doesn’t have one, it ought to.”
“Consumers have a choice to buy diamonds, but I think they should exercise that choice with the knowledge of what is happening to the Bushmen.
“The issue of blood diamonds caused a shift in public perception of the diamond trade. We hope the Bushmen’s story – although it is not the result of war – will again raise the question of where and how diamonds are sourced.”
The London Informer says Graff Diamonds refused to comment on the issue.
In December last year the company, which is owned by Johannesburg-based jeweler Laurence Graff, bought a 478-carat diamond from Lesotho – South Africa – for $18.4million. The average price per carat was $38,400.
The diamond trade contributes around $8.4billion annually to Africa and, since the introduction of the Kimberley Process, which requires rough diamonds to be transported across international borders in tamper-proof containers with serial numbers, 99.8 per cent of diamonds traded are certified.
Botswana produces diamonds worth $3.2bn annually.