Exclusive: Fears rise for illegal South African miners hiding underground in virus lockdown – by Kim Harrisberg (Reuters U.S. – April 29, 2020)


JOHANNESBURG (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – At least 100 illegal gold miners in South Africa are hiding underground, too scared to surface with police on patrol to enforce the coronavirus lockdown, according to industry sources.

Many illegal miners, known as zama-zamas – a Zulu expression for “taking a chance” – were underground in abandoned or disused mines in Gauteng province when the lockdown began on March 27.

Lawyers, activists and illegal miners told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that zama-zamas had little choice but to continue working, worried about being arrested if they surfaced and knowing there was no other work.

“They are struggling to get to the surface (to buy food) as police are blocking the entrances and they fear arrest,” said Johannesburg gold miner Zach, whose name was changed to protect his identity.

“At least 100 (zama-zamas) that I know of are trying to earn some money during the lockdown,” said Zach, 29, adding he had been arrested many times since turning to mining six years ago.

For the rest of this article: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-safrica-exclusive/exclusive-fears-rise-for-illegal-south-african-miners-hiding-underground-in-virus-lockdown-idUSKBN22B1F9