As unregulated mines have sprouted up across Malawi at an unprecedented rate, three people, all of them women, are feared dead in Lilongwe when an illegal mine fell on them along Nathenje river.
Village headman Kachigo, whose area is where the illegal mine is, said one of the dead women is his own sister.
He could not say what stones are being mined but said they are shiny pink stones.
“It was a terrible accident. It took almost two hours to extract the bodies from the mine,” he said.
The police were not immediately available for comment.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Energy, mines and environmental affairs has given illegal miners up to July 20 to vacate all illegal mining places or face the law.
Spokesperson for the ministry Sangwani Phiri said the decision has been arrived at to stop the illegal exports of precious stones and stop the wanton cutting down of trees.
“They should get out of the illegal mining sites by July 20 otherwise security personnel will forcibly take them out. We have given them up to July 20 to enable them assemble all their equipment and leave the sites,” said Phiri.
Some of the illegal sites are Nathenje, Namizimu in Mangochi and Makanjira in Mangochi.
Chief Makanjira said a vehicle with loud speakers is moving around his area telling illegal miners to leave the illegal mining sites.
He accused some of his subjects of encouraging the illegal miners by giving them shelter, food and labour.
Any mining activity – be it small or large scale – is deemed illegal if not sanctioned by the president through the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining.
Activists want parliament to establish a mining development commission, the functions of which would include granting, renewing and revoking mining licenses; regulating mining agreements; setting requisite investment targets; and monitoring compliance with policies and legislation.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :