Mine dumps add to Sowetans’ toxic overload
Soweto communities are preparing to take legal action against the mines and the government
Radioactive sand from mine dumps is frequently collected, sold and used in cement for houses in Soweto, according to a new Bench Marks Foundation report, Waiting to Inhale, released on Tuesday. With dust blowing off mine dumps, tainted water and asbestos roofs, the sand appears to be contributing to abnormally high levels of respiratory diseases, birth deformities and skin and eye ailments in four communities studied. Aided by Lawyers for Human Rights, the communities are preparing to take legal action against the mines and the government. Rose Plaatjies, who has lived in the Riverlea community all her life, said she was on oxygen therapy 16 hours a day. "The [toxic] dust is a truth.... My lungs can’t help me to breathe any more. Our children have eczema and eye problems and they are being born small. "The government put us here and gave us an asbestos roof, but no one told us anything [about the hazards]," she said. The three-year study, financed largely by Christian Aid of the UK,...