South Africa’s mineral resources department will dispatch a team to Kwahlathi, outside Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal, where large crowds of people have gathered in the belief they have found diamonds, reports say.
According to the broadcasting television channel, eNCA, residents claimed they had discovered a massive trove of diamonds.
Videos posted on social media showed people digging the ground in search of the precious stones.
The Witness reported on Monday that the residents said they were trying to dig as much as they could before the government “arrives and takes over the site”.
But in a statement on Monday, Premier Sihle Zikalala urged residents to cease the illegal operations and allow the government team to inspect the site.
“The KwaZulu-Natal provincial government has noted with concern, the reports of illegal mining activity taking place at KwaHlathi outside Ladysmith where throngs of people have gathered to mine what they believe are diamonds.
KZN PREMIER CALLS FOR ORDER AMID REPORTS OF A “DIAMOND RUSH” IN KWAHLATHI NEAR LADYSMITH
The KwaZulu-Natal provincial government has noted with concern, the reports of illegal mining activity taking place at KwaHlathi outside Ladysmith
— KZN Provincial Gov (@kzngov) June 13, 2021
“This activity follows the discovery by some of what they believe to be the precious stones. Images and videos have been circulating on social media where some involved in the illegal mining are seen celebrating in belief that they had struck it rich.
“As soon as it was notified of this, the provincial government tasked the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs to refer the matter to the national Department of Minerals and Energy as the relevant department which deals with such.
“The Department of Minerals and Energy has promised to dispatch teams to the site. These teams include the department’s enforcement and compliance unit to conduct an inspection of the site,” Zikalala said.
The premier said that the illegal mining activities could be in violation of the Covid-19 regulations.
“It is also very concerning that in the wake of a looming third wave we have so many people gathered in one spot, not maintaining social distancing and also not wearing masks. This could prove to be a super-spreader and might put at risk many people including those who are not part of the mining,” said Zikalala.
He said the provincial government will work closely with the SAPS, traditional communities, traditional leadership, and the local and district municipalities to bring calm to the area and to ensure that the relevant information filters through to community members.