The toxic business of stone!

The toxic business of stone!

Senate Sekotlo

LEKOKOANENG

When it is spring with the wind blowing fiercely in her village of Lekokoaneng, ’Mabaeti Motlamelle becomes extremely agitated.

Her biggest gripe is the huge amount of dust that blows in her direction from the sandstone miners dotted around the village.

And so when she hangs her clothes on the line, the dust sticks, making them dirtier than they were before they were washed.

Motlamelle says some of her neighbours have now resorted to hanging their clothes on the line at night, exposing them to thieves.

She says she wonders if the mines had submitted an environmental impact assessment document detailing how they would deal with the dust.

“Who should be held accountable for the pollution these mines are causing?” Motlamelle asks.

Motlamelle was one of the participants at the Berea Business Forum workshop in Teya-teyaneng where the importance of the sandstone mines in Lekokoaneng was discussed at length.

She says although the mines are a welcome development in the area, “it is equally important that they avoid polluting the environment in any manner”.

Mmabaeti MotlamelleMotlamelle says she has also observed that waste from the mines is washed into the small stream and pollutes the water for the Ha-Fusi villagers who are located downstream.

The stream, Tšukubela, runs close to Ha-Fusi village and most of the villagers depend on a spring close to the stream.

Motlamelle says although the Ha-Fusi villagers have not officially complained of the water pollution she has observed they also rely on the same water for household consumption.

“The people in Ha-Fusi depend on that spring and it simply shows that the government doesn’t care much about people’s lives and health. What it cares about is that three percent that is going straight to its bag,” she says.

workers at Lekoakoaneng

A senior official with the Lesotho Sandstone Company, Bokang Liphoto, says he is surprised by the complaints about dust because the people from surrounding villages had never raised the matter with the mine.

Lephoto says he only recalls a councillor from Ha-Fusi who came to the company two years ago seeking assistance to drill a borehole in the village saying they did not have water for household consumption.

The councillor was complaining that their spring is in the Tšukubela spring and in most cases when it overflows after heavy rains it is submerged and also that the mines contaminate the stream water.

“They need our assistance to set up a borehole for Ha-Fusi villagers that will provide the whole village with water. He promised to take me to that spring but never came back,” he says.

Liphoto says “we don’t have any problem to assist them but they should come and negotiate with us first”.

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