Former Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba had warned about the threat of illegal mining to the gas and pipeline infrastructure in the city as far back as 2017.
Mashaba had said he was perplexed by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s lack of action to deal with illegal mining in Johannesburg.
He said illegal miners were blasting close the Transnet pipelines and Sasol gas lines, posing a danger to the infrastructure and lives of people.
He said in 2017 he even attached a report from Transnet and Sasol warning about this when he sought help from the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy and other state departments.
“Indeed, from as early as October of 2017, the urgency of the matter was raised by Transnet who wrote to me seeking the city’s assistance in arresting illegal mining activities which not only threatened infrastructure, but residents’ lives as well,” said Mashaba.
He also wrote to the department of minerals about this, seeking intervention “with regard to illegal mining with the use of explosives near highways, Transnet bulk fuel supply and Sasol gas pipelines”.
But he did not get a response from the department.
After his 2017 letter, he sent another one in 2018.
He also wrote to the provincial government and SAPS in Gauteng.
Mashaba said his warnings were ignored, despite attaching letters and documents from Transnet and Sasol about this.
He said illegal mining “near pipelines carrying gas and fuel creates increased risk for neighbouring communities, puts services at risk and is an impending threat to the safety of city employees working along the pipelines and other services within the servitudes”.
Mashaba said the other risk was the contamination of the water supply.
“Illegal mining has resulted in tremors, which risks the structural integrity of our roads, adjacent residential communities and businesses (Illegal blasting can create a spark that can ignite a fire capable of incinerating a large radius of up to 300 metres.
“Illegal mining activities have compromised the pillars that support the decommissioned mines, placing additional risk on the physical structure upon which the pipelines rest and the imminent collapse of the mines and has compromised both Transnet pipelines and Sasol gas lines,” said Mashaba.
He said the use of explosives by illegal miners could have disastrous consequences for the people of Johannesburg and the economy.