Illegal Zamamphilo gold mining camp can result in Johannesburg’s own Chernobyl

The Zamamphilo gold mining camp in Ward 68 of Riverlea poses a serious risk to residents both of the camp and surrounding areas such as Horseshoe.

This camp, situated on top of both a Sasol gas pipeline as well as a Transnet fuel pipeline, is in fact an illegal mining camp and not an informal settlement. There is also a Rand Water pipeline underneath the camp.

Should the gas and fuel come into contact, this can result in a fatal explosion for much of the surrounding areas. The illegal miners are underground without the use of professional equipment or engineers. Should these miners get too close to these pipes and accidentally hit them, Johannesburg could see itself dealing with its own Chernobyl.

The existence of this camp also affects service delivery for residents of surrounding areas, where illegal electricity connections cause constant power outages for surrounding suburbs. With the illegal mining, water mains have been broken, while heavy metal has been introduced to the environment.

The increase in population of this mining camp has also resulted in an surge in crime, where miners often end up shooting each other during the day.

These were some of the issues I was presented with during my visit to the Zamamphilo camp today.

It is imperative that the Municipality immediately commences with the process of relocating those living in this camp, so that their lives, as well as the lives of residents in surrounding areas are not put in further danger and that this illegal mining activity also ceases.

Democratic Alliance Councillor, Mckinnley Mitchell has already called for an urgent debate on the matter in the Johannesburg City Council to take place later this month.

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