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Year-long Delay in Jagersfontein Home Rebuilding Blamed on Government Directives

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

On 11 September 2020, the community of Jagersfontein, South Africa, experienced a catastrophic dam collapse. This event released a deluge of mining waste, marking a dire environmental disaster and a profound disruption of local inhabitants' lives.

A year on, and many victims remain displaced, awaiting the promise of restoration. According to a report by the Bench Marks Foundation, proclamations of complete assistance by the government have proven false, with the lives of Charlesville and Skotti community members still marked by the collapse's aftermath.

Stepping into the spotlight, Jagersfontein Developments Ltd, the company responsible for the diamond tailings reprocessing facility in the area since 2011, addressed the slow progress on rebuilding and restoration efforts. Both the government and Jagersfontein Developments Ltd share responsibility for the dam and were expected to lead in rectifying its consequences accordingly.

Speaking on the delay, Billy Bilankulu, the company's spokesperson, noted that in the wake of the disaster, at least 14 directives had been received from different government departments, primarily with a focus on residents' safety. Commenting further, Bilankulu stated that these directives have often hamstrung efforts to effectively assist the impacted communities, constraining the company’s avenues for intervention.

Despite the setbacks, Jagersfontein Developments Ltd maintains a willingness to support the community as soon as the government removes the limiting directives. In the interim, the company has sought to maintain effective communication with the residents through community meetings in collaboration with governmental entities.

While the rebuilding process suffered substantial delays, initiative was finally taken in late May or early June, when the directive prohibiting housing construction was finally lifted. This allowed the company to bring contractors on board to begin erecting houses for the victims. According to Bilankulu, amid ongoing operational challenges, the commencement of 37 to 38 houses is progressing.

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