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People rush to extract diamonds in South African village, authorities say they are quartz




On June 12, a farmer in South Africa found shiny stones while grazing his cattle in the village of KwaHlathi in KwaZulu-Natal province. Believing they were diamonds, the shepherd quickly uttered the word. Within a week, thousands of people flocked to the hillside village with picks and shovels to dig up the area to make a fortune for themselves.

However, a local government report has now said the shiny stones were actually quartz and not diamonds.

Ravi Pillay, a member of the provincial executive council for economic development and tourism, told a news conference Sunday that the stones are actually quartz crystals, which are much less valuable.

“Tests carried out eventually revealed that the stones discovered in the area are not diamonds as some had hoped,” Reuters quoted him as saying.

“The value, if any, of quartz crystals has not yet been determined, but it should be noted that the value of quartz crystals is very low compared to that of diamonds,” he added.

The report stated that the place, which is about 300 kilometers from Johannesburg, is located on the edge of the Karoo dolerite threshold which is not in an area where diamonds are found.

Why did people rush for ‘diamonds’?

KwaZulu-Natal Province is one of the poorest regions in South Africa. Ravi Pillay said the event highlighted the socio-economic challenges facing local people. South Africa, which is already recovering from a high unemployment rate, has seen rising unemployment amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Initially, there were 3,000 people in the country who came to dig but now the number has dropped to 500, Reuters quoted Pilay as saying. He said they would be encouraged to leave as large crowds threaten the spread of Covid-19. If they do not leave, however, law enforcement agencies will be required to ensure site clearance, he said.

According to Reuters, local officials pledged to respond to issues raised by the community during their visit, particularly about road quality and access to water.

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