Illegal miners and Zuma’s rosy picture

Once again, public resources had to be used to rescue a group of illegal miners trapped, this time, in an abandoned mine in Benoni on the East Rand.

Yesterday, Ekurhuleni emergency services brought to the surface 10 illegal miners who were part of a group, believed to total 200, trapped underground since Saturday. And there seems to be no solution to this dangerous practice that sees men risking their lives to work in mines that lack the necessary infrastructure and safety equipment.

In his State of the Nation address last week, President Zuma sought to paint a rosy picture of how life has improved since 1994. There is no denying that South Africa is indeed a better country to live in. However, downplaying the challenges posed by unemployment and poverty is not helpful and is a recipe for disaster.

The increase in illegal mining is the direct result of soaring unemployment and poverty that drive increasing numbers of desperate citizens to risk their lives in order to earn a living. Arresting these illegal miners is a temporary solution, as these are allegedly being controlled by highly organised syndicates.

A long-term solution is to target the big fish, while at the same time doubling our effort in tackling poverty and unemployment.

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