Afrikaners chased from gold-fields by warring mine-gangs

Illegal gold-mining gangs from Lesotho rip out everything of value, destroying the historic Harmony gold-mine village of St Helena in Welkom

image The Harmony gold-mining operations in South Africa present an optimistic propaganda-picture: however the company battles to keep the large number of gold-mining pirates (zama-zamas) from overwhelming their legal operations in many regions – yet the mining company remains largely stum about it: (Harmony publicity). Local resident Alet van der Walt writes that the Afrikaner mining-families in the gold-mining region of Welkom are living under a constant state of siege from the lawless gold-mining golds from Lesotho. The village around the St Helena mine is steadily being stripped down until only the weeds remain where the zama-zamas livestock graze.


Photos and story by Alet van der Walt – The Afrikaners in Welkom are living in a state of permanent siege from the lawless gold-mining gangs from Lesotho, called the zama-zamas. The town’s life-blood is being drained as even the most historic buildings are being stripped of everything valuable. The once so thriving community is rapidly being reduced to deserted dismal ruins where the zama-zamas herd their livestock.WELKOM b LOOTED BY ILLEGAL GOLD MINERS OF EVERYTHING VALUABLE TOWN TURNING INTO DESERT NOV 2011

 WELKOM e illegal goldmining gangs strip everything of value and chase Afrikaner longtime owners away nov 2011

Zama-zamas are for the most part, illegal migrants from Lesotho, wearing their ‘trademark’ blankets. They break down the St.Helena mine-houses brick by brick, and sell off the chipped-off bricks.


Only 40,000 Afrikaner families reportedly remained in 2006 across these gold-fields, according to Stats-SA’s 2006 mini-census. Gold-mining towns such as Springs also are suffering a similar fate: with the infrastructures of the mines completely stripped down for everything of value. 

Alet van der Walt: “The residents who live around the old gold-mines such as Harmony live in total fear. They even stole the old-age home’s electricity cables last winter.  And the legal gold-miners don’t dare to go down below: last year a proto-team was attacked and people were killed in an explosion set by the illegal miners. Any employee of the mine who happens to be below ground by himself, is threatened with death. The mine-management handles the zama-zama’s with kid-gloves: they are terrified of them and give them anything they demand’.


  Zama-zamas looting steel pipes from the Welkom St Helena mine infrastructure:

WELKOM d illegal goldmining gangs strip down everything valuable chasing Afrikaner residnets away Nov 2011 Picture Album:

About Adriana Stuijt
Retired South African-Dutch journalist formerly Sunday Times Johannesburg

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: