Illegal mining has put several key Johannesburg landmarks at risk.
According to a report by the Sunday Times, both Transnet and Sasol have sounded the alarm on illegal miners (zama zamas) who are blasting within metres of highly flammable gas and fuel lines under Johannesburg.
Should one of those lines be damaged, everything within a 300 metres radius will be incinerated.
The report notes that this includes the M1 double-decker highway, the M2, sections of Soweto and the 94,000-seat FNB Stadium.
“If there is a rupture at FNB Stadium, which has gas pipelines running past it, it and the homes around it are gone,” said Johannesburg’s Infrastructure Protection Unit head, Conel Mackay.
He added that there have already been a number of near misses in the Florida and Riverlea areas.
“In some places miners were 30cm from striking the pipes. Miners are using explosives near the Langlaagte fuel depot.”
While the City of Johannesburg has known about the issue for over a year, national government is yet to respond, says the city’s mayor, Herman Mashaba.
“It is not if a disaster will strike, but when. Johannesburg is a ticking time bomb,” he said.
“The disaster zones are massive. Our officials can seize explosives and confiscate gold, but they don’t have skills to stop illegal mining.”