Madam Chairperson, on 25 to 26 September 2014 the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources undertook an oversight visit to Gauteng. The main objective was to attend to the crisis posed by illegal mining in the country, as well as to pay a courtesy visit to the National House of Traditional Leaders. Also included, as part of the work, was to look at the work done so far regarding the issues that relate to acid mine drainage.
It is important to note that the issue of illegal mining has reached almost crisis proportions. We have approximately 6 000 people involved in underground mining and about 8 000 in surface mining. It is estimated that in 2011 alone the cost to the fiscus of this country was more than R6 billion. It is also important to note two observations that were made by Judge Jake Moloi of the Free State Supreme Court. He stated, and I quote:
... these illegal activities are orchestrated and are syndicated with the foot soldiers doing the dirty work for the faceless bosses.
He then goes further to state:
There is no law regulating the illegal mining activities. The most the State can charge the illegal miners with is Trespass and Theft or Attempted Theft as in our case.
He then makes an unusual and unexpected, but correct, call to Parliament, that there is a need:
... to enact a law that will have harsh punishment for illegal [mining] activities which are assuming horrendous proportions.
To simplify the judge's observations and call, there is a market out there that benefits from illegal mining activities. Hence the need to deal with the source, and not the act or actions of illegal mining. There is also a need to consider enacting a law that specifically focuses on illegal mining. This is because, in the absence of such legislation it becomes difficult for the criminal justice system to act decisively on such matters.
Lastly, it is important to note that in our own oversight work on the day we discovered that most people involved in such actions - the majority of them - were foreign nationals. As such, in some cases it has even led to criminal acts of gangsterism based on the country of origin.
In summary, the oversight was in the first place mainly about first-hand experience of the scale and extent of the crisis of illegal mining and the need to consider mechanisms in regard to how to eradicate such practices. It was also about the extent to which we as Parliament, and in particular as the Committee on Mineral Resources, could work closely, for mutual benefit and co-operation, with the National House of Traditional Leaders. It was also to observe the work being done with regard to the issue of acid mine drainage.
I can say, Chairperson, that in committee the report was adopted unanimously by the members of the committee. I therefore present the report for consideration and adoption by Parliament. Thank you. [Applause.]
There was no debate.