Pretoria - The community of Ten Morgan in Winterveldt is pleading with the Department of Mineral Resources to take action against “illegal sand mining” taking place in the area.
The farming community in the area said excavation had caused the natural flow of the Tolwane River to be diverted, depriving certain streams of water and causing soil erosion.
A farmer who did not want to be named said yesterday that the activities hugely impacted farming.
“These people never discussed anything with the community, they just started excavating. We have approached them a number of times wanting to see the permits they claim to have, but those documents do not seem legit,” the 40-year-old said.
The farmer said that as a community, they wanted the excavation to stop because the area was fast becoming a shadow of what it used to be.
“They have dug up so much by the river banks that some houses now look like islands. I shudder to think how this will affect the value of our properties and land should we decide to sell one day.”
Junior Baloyi, acting secretary of the Winterveldt Farmers’ Association, shared these sentiments, saying the sand mining had been going on for almost seven years, and negatively affected farmers and their crops.
Baloyi said that they had been in communication with officials from the Department of Mineral Resources, the SAPS and the City of Tshwane, but all this was in vain as the excavation never stopped.
“We want to know why, despite numerous engagements with the department, they have failed to stop these people. All we are asking for now is for the excavation to stop, pending proper application processes,” he said.
Baloyi showed proof of communication, including a letter dated September 10, 2021, written by Shadrack Nkuna, director of the criminal enforcement compliance and enforcement unit at the department, acknowledging the community's complaint.
In the letter, Nkuna said they conducted inspections and found that the allegations of illegal mining were true.
“The office will then take administrative measures against the perpetrator(s) to resolve the matter, however it reserves the right to initiate criminal measures, should the development warrant such,” Nkuna said.
When contacted about whether or not the department took action against the miners, Nkuna said the questions should be addressed to their communications team.
However, spokesperson Solly Phetla said he was on leave and could not comment on the issue.
When the Pretoria News visited the area yesterday, there was excavation taking place. A worker, who identified himself as Emmanuel, said he managed the rest of the team and later referred the team to another man named Tony Moyane, whom he claimed was their boss.
Moyane said that whoever was unhappy about the mining activity in the area was trying to settle a score with him.
“He came to you because we do not see eye to eye at the moment. He is demanding money from me; he wants to fix his car that broke down. When I refused, he started acting up. I also have my own problems. I do not owe him anything,” he said.
Moyane did not want to name the individual he was speaking about.
City of Tshwane spokesperson Lindela Mashigo could not be reached for a comment.