Sunday, 8 February 2009
WOMEN AND CHILDREN RISK LIVES AT ILLEGAL MINE
AN unidentified woman breaking the land to get rocks for crushing in Kafue.
Kafue is a town in Zambia south of Lusaka and about 40 kilometres from the capital.
The women sell the stones to people who are building houses in the nearby town. They small heaps of stones cost between K50, 000 and K100, 000.
Last week, I went on a news hunting mission to Kafue. I was attracted by a group of women just as one approaches the town. These women where digging at the foot of a mountain with children on their backs. I parked the car and walked to them over a distance of about 50 metres from the road. What I found was a case of illegal mining.
The mine where the women conduct their activities is an illegal site, but what is suprising is that local authorities, including the area Member of Parliament, councilors and even officials from the central government have ignored the rusky business going on in Kafue.
The mine is so dangerous because there are no safety measures. Stones hang from the mountain so loosely while the women and children are diiging below.
When I asked why they risk their lives, one of the women who only identified herself as Mrs Mumba said the economic hardships are forced her to reach those ends.
"I have been to school but I cannot find a job to look after my family. This is the only means I have and indded these other people here. We are aware of the dangers, but what can a person in my situation do," she asked.
The women take along with them, children as young as eight months because there is no one to look after them at home. The child are also exposed to the same danger of rock-falls.
I am convinced that something can be done about the illegal mining in Kafue, even if it is the only means of survival for those people.