Thousands of people have flocked to the village of KwaHlathi in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province to search for what they believe are diamonds. This comes after a man dug up a crystal-like stone in an open field and spread the word.
Since Saturday, people have been traveling from across South Africa to join other treasure seekers in the village who have been digging since the discovery of the unidentified stones.
A 27-year-old father of two, Mendo Sabelo, couldn’t hide his joy. “This means our lives will change because no one had a proper job, I do odd jobs. When I returned home with them, (the family was) really overjoyed,” Sabelo told Reuters while holding some of the tiny stones.
The stones are yet to be analyzed by geological experts. The mines department on Monday sent a team of geological and mining experts to the area to collect samples and conduct an analysis, Reuters said.
The provincial government has since shared a video of the site on Twitter, describing it as a “diamond rush.” It said it had “noted with concern, the reports of illegal mining activity taking place at KwaHlathi outside Ladysmith.”
Officials have asked people to leave the site so that experts can conduct a proper inspection.
At the moment, some people are selling the stones, with the starting price ranging from 100 rand ($7.25) to 300 rand ($21.75).
There are however fears that those at the site could be spreading the coronavirus.
“We call for order and calm and urge all those involved to cease their operations and vacate the site so as to allow the DMRE to conduct a proper inspection of the site and of what has been discovered there,” KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala said.
“It is also very concerning that in the wake of a looming third wave we have so many people gathered in one spot, not maintaining social distance and also not wearing masks. This could prove to be a super-spreader and might put many people at risk including those who are not part of the mining,” the premier said.