JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Mining company BHP Billiton South Africa, which has donated R1-million to Business Against Crime South Africa (Bacsa), has called on other corporate companies to follow suit.
"We can't have a sustainable country with high levels of crime," says BHP Billiton South Africa chairperson Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi, who is also the newly elected president of the Chamber of Mines.
Mkhwanazi says that the business sector's efforts in helping to fund South Africa's fight against crime are made in a spirit of partnership that complements the role of government in enforcing the law.
Mkhwanazi adds that the long-term objective is "encourage and assist government in developing the institutions, managerial capacity and financial resources necessary to implement and enforce the law".
He emphasises further that safety and security is a basic human right that "sadly" often fails to reach the most vulnerable and powerless.
BHP Billiton has contributed more than R200 million to various local community development programmes.
Bacsa CEO Dr Graham Wright says that the donation will enable Bacsa to implement existing and new projects that address needs within the business community.
"We are very encouraged by the developments that are taking place within the police and also the improvements that are taking place within the broader criminal justice system," says Wright.
"The police have also picked up the issue of illegal mining as a major problem and we are talking to the police commissioner of Gauteng about what needs to be done.
"Our role is to help the police with the resources that are required to address the problem and it won't be long, I think, till the criminal mining problem will be resolved, with the help of the police," says Wright, in response to Mining Weekly Online's question.
He adds that Bacsa provides facilitation support in the police-led nonferrous metals theft initiative to stop cable theft, which is a deep mining problem.
The Chamber has a joint initiative with the Department of Mineral Resources and the police to tackle the eradication of illegal mining holistically.
"It's not only a financial issue, but there is also a massive safety component to it because most of the illegal mining is done unsafely and results in unnecessary deaths. A few months ago there was a major accident in which many illegal miners died.
"Regrettably, in some areas mine, rehabilitation has not been done properly or not done at all and the owners are no longer known. There are many ownerless mines that need rehabilitation and we are in discussion with government and Parliament to see how we resolve that.
"Overwhelmingly, the members of the Chamber are putting pressure on the executive council to find solutions to the illegal mining problem. It's a time bomb, it's a serious problem," Mkhwanazi adds.
BHP Billiton South Africa vice-president strategic projects Andre van der Bergh says that Bacsa's partnership with government has been mandated by the Cabinet to assist in the tackling of national strategic issues.