SA: ‘Children used for sex’

July 08 2009 at 12:04PM
By Fouzia van der Fort

Children are being smuggled underground to have sex with illegal miners who live and work in disused mine shafts, says the director-general for the Department of Mineral Resources, Advocate Sandile Nogxina.

Nogxina was presenting a departmental report to a public hearing on illegal mining at parliament on Tuesday.

Johnny Ramrock, secretary for the portfolio committee of mining, told the Cape Argus this was the first the committee had heard of underground sex work involving children.

Last month 86 bodies were recovered after an underground fire broke out in Harmony Gold’s disused Eland Shaft at Welkom in the Free State. and more than 300 illegal miners were arrested.

Harmony Gold spokeswoman Marian van der Walt told the portfolio committee that illegal miners lived underground for many months and many employed the services of sex workers. “We (have) come to know that children are involved in this process,” she said.

Van der Walt could not elaborate on how often and how many sex workers were being smuggled underground, but said police were dealing with the situation.

In recent months more people had been arrested and disciplinary action had been taken because of the vigilance of police and security officials.

The Harmony Gold presentation included graphics of messages left by alleged illegal miners warning the company to limit security underground.

The portfolio committee was also shown photographs of food being strapped to miners about to descend shafts.

Apparently a loaf of bread can cost up to R200 underground.

The public hearings come after mineral resources minister Susan Shabangu had vowed to crack down on illicit mining.

Labourers and mining unions were due to have their say on Wednesday.

Original at IOL

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