Sipho Mabena
Premium Journalist
3 minute read
10 Mar 2021
5:20 am

Mpumalanga miners’ daily dice with death

Sipho Mabena

Equipped with the most basic of digging tools such picks, shovels as well as chisels, the Boekenhouthoek community has turned their village into a giant quarry in search of the quartzes.

A shaft of light illuminates a miner in one of the Boekenhouthoek Village gemstone mines in Mpumalanga, 8 March 2021. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Driven by biting hunger and poverty, residents of the impoverished Boekenhouthoek village in Mpumalanga have been playing Russian roulette with their lives, digging up almost the entire area in search of gemstones which they sell to survive. Equipped with the most basic of digging tools such picks, shovels as well as chisels, the community has turned their village into a giant quarry in search of the quartzes, with almost the entire village now riddled with muddy and damp underground tunnels. With rising unemployment, more people from the area have joined the digging frenzy, which started more than 40 years ago...