South Africa News

Unemployment prompts Mpumalanga villagers to turn their backyards into crystal mines

As South Africa draws closer to its national and provincial elections, the publication is on the ground engaging communities about life 30 years since the dawn of democracy.

In Mpumalanga, deprived families from the Boekenhouthoek village – an area on the outskirts of Moloto Road, which connects Pretoria and Mpumalanga – have turned their homes into crystal mines.

Several households have dug underground tunnels in their gardens to extract quartz crystals – which are uniquely South African.

They are used to make jewellery, glass and GPS devices.

Residents told the publication that they make thousands of rands from selling the gems to both local and international customers.

In the poverty- stricken village where unemployment is rife, even the educated are armed with picks and shovels to make ends meet.

Driving around the village, the publication is welcomed into one of the homes where boxes of beer are filled with the shiny, colourful and valuable spirit quartz crystals.

A resident – who obtained a business management diploma at the Tshwane TVET College in 2018 – crawls into a tunnel and explains that this is his bread and butter.

Unemployment prompts Mpumalanga villagers to turn their backyards into crystal mines

“After I graduated, I stayed home because I was jobless. I realised that my only solution would finding something to do while I job hunt. That’s when I started digging in the backyard and making ends meet by selling these crystals.”

A few moments later, a 23-year-old resident crawls out of another narrow tunnel with his face and clothes coated in sand.

But he says finding formal employment is not foremost as he boasts about the thousands of rands he makes weekly.

“Many people have never seen or held R30,000 in cash but I have. I know I look dirty, but I sleep well at night knowing I’m providing for my family. Just so you know, I dropped out of school in grade 5, but today I have something because of my hands.”

He refuses to be labelled a zama zama or illegal miner.

“It really hurts that some see me as an illegal miner or even a fool. The money I make from this supports many families.”

He proudly tells the publication that he’s managed to extend his family home, thanks to proceeds made from selling the crystal.

Meanwhile, most backyard miners say their biggest customers are based in Johannesburg.


In other news – Divorce turns ugly as Lebo M’s wife demands R150 000 spousal maintenance and other funds

The divorce battle has turned ugly between Lion King composer Lebo M, real name Lebohang Morake, and his estranged wife, Pretty Samuels. According to a local publication, Samuels has a list of financial demands that she has tabled at the Johannesburg High Court.

Lebo M And Pretty Samuels

One of Samuels’ demands us allegedly R150 000 in monthly spousal maintenance. The month allegedly includes R23 000 for a car instalment, R5 000 for cellphone, R35 000 for rent or bond, R10 000 per month for holiday allowance, and R6 500 for groceries. Read More