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Gold mine of ‘death’

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By Phila - SWAZI TIMES-08-Sep-2009

LUFAFA – They risk their lives by spending days underground, illegally digging up trenches with the hope that they would find gold

Some find it but some don’t. In fact, some have already made the furrows their destined ‘home of fortune’ as they have placed some ‘furniture-like’ structures to prove ownership. It was gathered that trespassing near these furrows might lead to confrontation or war. The place is situated in the northern Hhohho region, a few kilometres from Hhelehhele just across the Mlumati River.

It is so quiet, and very much respected by the residents that they normally don’t show the place to strangers. Ladders, candles, ropes and self made pulling machines were found scattered near the trenches on Saturday. So passionate are the miners that they even seek the intervention of traditionalists who sprinkle lucky powder around the trenches before they go in.

This normally happens a day before they conduct their illegal digging exercises. Information gathered is that the exercise sometimes lasts a day, a week or even a month, depending on the luck that the miners have.

It took the Times crew more than an hour to finally convince residents to show them the position of ‘sacred’ place. Some even warned the crew to be careful as there are ‘gods’ guarding the place. “Just cross that river and look for red signs on the rocks leading to the place, but be careful since the gods are watching you,” warned an elderly man.

It was gathered that most of the illegal miners, who have already struck it rich by successfully extracting the gold pebbles, are plying their trade in countries like South Africa and Zambia. They are said to be frequently coming back to the scene, this time around driving luxurious cars, to get more of the unfinished product.

“Those who were successful are untouchable and we suspect that they actually supply other mining companies in South Africa,” revealed two self confessed illegal miners who were found a few metres from the mining spot. Their names will not be published for ethical reasons.

The miners revealed that because of the abject poverty they were subjected to, most residents were helping themselves to the abandoned gold mountain, Lufafa. “Actually, we feel like we are an abandoned society which is why we go for the gold. It has become our only source of income. “As you can see, there are no roads and the place is too rocky for farming,” explained the miners.

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