Furore over sand mining application

Coastal Weekly visited the area on Tuesday, July 24 to hear the views of the residents.

Govender, who was visibly upset, demanded answers from the company.

“Most of the residents in our area are not aware of the consequences that sand mining will have in the near future.

“My house is close to the bank of the river. I fear that my home will be affected. We invested a lot in our homes. As ratepayers, we’re unhappy about this proposal,” Govender said.

Residents further claimed that Dube Tradeport is the owner of the land.

Local farmer from Mount Moreland Visvanathan Chetty said: “I am totally against sand mining in this area because it is going to damage my property and plants.

“If we give a go ahead to the company to start digging from the bank of the river then, as farmers, we will not be able to plant anymore,” Chetty said.

Golden Phakathi crosses the river almost every day from Coniston to Verulam CBD.

“Young children are crossing Umdloti River. We feel that, once the company starts excavating and extracting sand, the environment will be impacted. The river is deep and there’s no foot bridge crossing over. The company will dig huge trenches and leave open spaces. Children will drown,” Phakathi said.

Owner of Phumalanga Mining (PTY) LTD Eugene Shangase said public meetings were held with the community to discuss the matter and there were no objections raised.

“It’s only one person who got a problem — Hayley Govender. She went and mobilised the community and told them to raise objections after we held a meeting.

“I think she is jealous because she and her husband applied for a permit a long time ago and they started digging sand.

“We had door to door interviews with the public about the proposed sand mining operation and no one raised objections,” Shangase said.

He said that the spot where his company intends to excavate sand is far from the school.

“We have no intention whatsoever to put the lives of the children and community in danger. Govender influenced people to oppose the application. I am not happy about this. However, we have decided to withdraw from operating in this spot because it looks like there are unforeseen problems in this operation,” Shangase said.

Ward councillor Johnson Chetty said sand mining within the confines of a residential area is a highly sensitive matter.

“There are huge implications for the people who live within that precinct. Invariably it may lead to a deleterious impact on the quality of life. It may also impact on the health and safety of vulnerable children, elderly and infirm people.

“Traffic congestion is another concern. There’s a great possibility of the roads infrastructure being compromised. What the environmentalists are agitated about is the effect on the fauna and flora.

“Sometimes the natural habitat is disturbed so greatly that there is no chance of reversal,” Chetty said.

Coastal Weekly contacted the Dube Tradeport for a comment.

Spokesperson for Dube Tradeport Vincent Zwane requested questions to be sent to him via e-mail however, at the time of going to press, nothing was forthcoming.