Hundreds of South Africans have flocked to KwaHlathi in KwaZulu-Natal after unconfirmed reports that diamonds were found in the area.
The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) says it is aware of the rush after images and videos started circulating on social media about the purported discovery of diamonds.
The department said it is dispatching a task team comprising geological and mining experts to the area to determine the veracity of the stories and to conduct a proper inspection of the site, and of what has been discovered.
“The teams will be on-site from Tuesday (15 June) and include the Department’s Enforcement and Compliance unit to conduct an inspection of the site, experts from the Council for Mineral Technology and the Council for Geoscience who can opine on matters of the mineral composition of rocks, and can provide an analysis of an areas potential for mineral resources respectively.
“The team also includes the South African Diamond & Precious Metals Regulator as the custodian of all matters related to precious minerals in the country.”
The department said that the teams will collect samples and analysis will be conducted, and a formal technical report will be issued in due course.
“The department is also working with relevant authorities and stakeholders, including the traditional communities, traditional leadership and the local and district municipalities to bring calm to the area and to ensure that the relevant information is communicated to affected communities “in order to address the matter as speedily as possible.”
Reuters reported that more than a 1,000 people from across South Africa travelled to the village over the weekend in hopes of finding ‘diamonds’ – which are actually believed to be quartz crystals.
The lack of an analysis of the stones has not deterred the fortune seekers as long lines of parked cars on both sides of the gravel road could be seen just a few metres from the open field, where the young, old, female and male dug through the soil with picks, shovels and forks to find riches, Reuters said.
South Africa’s economy has long suffered from extremely high levels of unemployment, trapping millions in poverty and contributing to stark inequalities that persist nearly three decades after the end of apartheid in 1994. The coronavirus pandemic has made it worse.