Gayton and Kenny ‘not to blame’ for abandoned Riverlea mine

Businessmen Kenny Kunene and Gayton Mckenzie. Picture: Alaister Russell

Mckenzie says he and his partner were employed by the company responsible for the mine, but have had nothing to do with them for at least 11 years.

Businessmen and leader of the Patriotic Alliance Gayton McKenzie says he and Kenny Kunene left Central Rand Gold (CRG) more than a decade ago and were never owners but employees.

The Citizen reported on Monday  the mine belonged to the ex-convicts turned-businessmen who allegedly left the community of Riverlea, west of Johannesburg, with broken promises and misery.

The residents want the owners of CRG to be charged for failing to adhere to the requirements of the national Environmental Management Act.

This is for not ever producing credible information and for not making provisions for mine closure and rehabilitation in terms of the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA).

McKenzie has since cleared the air and said he and Kunene left the employ of that company about 11 years ago and have had nothing to do with it ever since.

“We certainly never owned it or controlled it. Since we were part of the team in 2007-8 that did community participation ahead of CRG getting its mining rights, an impression may have been created that we were the big bosses there, but nothing could be further from the truth. I was not even the BEE partner, nor have I ever been anyone’s BEE partner,” McKenzie explained.

He said the Benchmarks Foundation’s lead researcher David van Wyk, who he said was a DA member, had been desperately trying to spread misinformation that the mining activity and shaft in Riverlea were his doing.

“They are not saying this because they care about the environment there or are really pursuing action against those genuinely responsible for what may have taken place during any mining there, but simply because they want to discredit me. They feel threatened by the growing popularity of the Patriotic Alliance,” McKenzie said.

He said this issue of the hole in Riverlea was similar to that of the quarry in Heidedal, Bloemfontein, which many people mistakenly believe was also his doing.

According to residents, particular concern was an open cast pit less than five meters from proclaimed heritage sites (George Harrison Park, the site of the first mining licence in Johannesburg granted in 1886) and a primary school (TC Esterhuysen, established in 1917), cutting off the community of Riverlea from this historic school attended by prominent residents of Riverlea.

In their complaint they detail how the opencast pit presented a constant danger to the primary school and its pupils (aged 6 to 12 years) and to the community, and that residents have for the last five years tried to draw the attention of Department of Mineral Resources in vain.

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