Dreams of easier life as ‘diamond rush’ grips KZN after discovery of unidentified stones

A man shows an unidentified stone as fortune seekers flock to the village after pictures and videos were shared on social media showing people celebrating after finding what they believe to be diamonds, in the village of KwaHlathi outside Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal.
Image: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

More than 1,000 fortune seekers have flocked to the village of KwaHlathi in KwaZulu-Natal in search of what they believed to be diamonds after a discovery of unidentified stones in the area.

The people travelled from across SA to join villagers who have been digging since Saturday, after a herdsman who dug up the first stone on an open field, which some believe to be quartz crystals, put out the word.

The discovery was a life changer, said one digger Mendo Sabelo as he held a handful of tiny stones.

“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,” said the 27-year-old father of two.

Unemployed Skhumbuzo Mbhele agreed, adding: “I hadn’t seen or touched a diamond in my life. It’s my first time touching it here.”

The department of mineral resources said it was sending a team of geological and mining experts to the site to collect samples and conduct an analysis.

A formal technical report will be issued in due course, the department said.

The lack of an analysis of the stones has not deterred the fortune seekers as long lines of parked cars on both sides of the gravel road could be seen just a few metres from the open field, where the young, old, female and male dug through the soil with picks, shovels, and forks to find riches.

Some people have started selling the stones, with the starting price ranging from R100 to R300.

The provincial government has since requested all those involved to leave the site to allow authorities to conduct a proper inspection, amid fears the people digging at the site could potentially be spreading the coronavirus.


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