July 2, 2022

Mystery stones spark diamond rush in poor South African region, World News & Top Stories

KWAHLATHI (AFP) – Single mother Lihle Magudulela spat out a mouthful of dirt as she sucked on a stone dug up from a hillside in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, convinced she might have found a diamond.

Thousands have flocked to the outskirts of KwaHlathi village, more than 300km southeast of Johannesburg, after a cattle herder last week unearthed a handful of unidentified crystal-like stones.

News of the finding spread fast, triggering a rush to the site despite messages of caution by the government warning the stones could be worthless.

At dawn, men and women upturned clumps of soil with shovels and picks and frantically rummaged through the earth with their bare hands.

Many found more of the mysterious stones and set them aside in small dirt-encrusted piles.

“They are real,” beamed Ms Magudulela, in her 40s and struggling to feed her three children.

“I’m going to buy a car, a house, send my kids to private school,” she told AFP.

The prospect of finding a diamond sent glimmering ripples of hope to one of the poorest regions of South Africa as the coronavirus pandemic worsened decades of extremely high unemployment levels.

The country, internationally renowned for its mineral wealth, still holds a record for the world’s largest ever rough diamond discovery – the Cullinan – found in 1905 in the small mining town by the same name.

South Africa is also the brith place of the Kimberley Process, an international certification scheme to keep conflict diamonds off the market.

“We are poor, we are unemployed. But this could change everything,” said Precious, 38, who did not wish to give her full name.

She had spent the night digging, with her teenage son and baby daughter.

The boy clutched a transparent crystal the size of a ping pong ball.

“They are not tired, we are looking for money,” Precious exclaimed.

Dreaming of ‘Dubai’

Rumour has it that the Cullinan, which weighed over 3,000 carats uncut, was lying only a few metres below ground and dug up with a pocketknife.

The rough stone yielded nine major diamonds used to adorn the British crown jewels, as well as almost 100 minor brilliants.

Johannesburg resident Thulani Manyathi, 36, travelled to KwaHlathi from the impoverished township of Alexandra with his four young daughters.

“We are going to live in Dubai. I want a house with double storage, this is going to change our life,” Mr Manyathi told AFP, fingering a cluster of stones in his pocket.

“No school today,” he added. “We are digging for diamonds.”

There is talk of “foreigners” buying the stones for a few hundred rands in the nearby town of Ladysmith.

But experts say it is highly unlikely the stones will turn out to be valuable.

“These are not diamonds, people here are just wasting their time,” said 18-year-old Bhekumuzi Luvuno, skeptically inspecting one of the stones he unearthed overnight.

Authorities over the weekend asked diggers to leave the area, citing coronavirus restrictions, but to no avail.

The government on Tuesday (June 15) sent a team of geological and mining experts to the area, now pockmarked with holes, to collect stones for analysis.

Police cars are monitoring the area to keep the crowds in check.

in World
Related Posts

Nearly 900 US Secret Service employees tested positive for coronavirus, United States News & Top Stories

June 22, 2021

June 22, 2021

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) – Almost 900 active US secret service employees – most of them responsible for protecting government officials and...

France jails Louvre machete attacker for 30 years, Europe News & Top Stories

June 24, 2021

June 24, 2021

PARIS (AFP) – A French court on Thursday (June 24) jailed for 30 years a man who attacked soldiers with...

As England’s deer population explodes, some propose a mass cull, Europe News & Top Stories

July 4, 2021

July 4, 2021

CIRENCESTER, ENGLAND (NYTIMES) – During a spring day of sun and showers in Gloucestershire in southwestern England, Mr Mike Robinson,...

While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, June 27, World News & Top Stories

June 26, 2021

June 26, 2021

Engineer found structural damage years before building collapse An engineer found evidence of major structural damage beneath the pool deck and...

Russia detains prominent opposition politician in widening crackdown, Europe News & Top Stories

June 1, 2021

June 1, 2021

MOSCOW (REUTERS) – Dmitry Gudkov, a prominent opposition politician and former parliamentarian, was detained by Russian law enforcement officials on...

US defence chief Lloyd Austin tells Pentagon to sharpen focus on China, United States News & Top Stories

June 9, 2021

June 9, 2021

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin directed the Pentagon on Wednesday (June 9) to sharpen its focus on...

To stem nature loss, start by ending harmful subsidies, economists say, World News & Top Stories

June 9, 2021

June 9, 2021

LONDON (THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION) – Raising huge new sums of “nature” finance to better protect the planet’s ailing biodiversity will...

Turkey should pull troops from Afghanistan under 2020 accord: Taleban spokesman, Middle East News & Top Stories

June 10, 2021

June 10, 2021

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – Turkey should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan under the 2020 deal for the pullout of US forces,...

Power Play: Stormier days for US-China ties?, Asia News & Top Stories

May 25, 2021

May 25, 2021

SINGAPORE – Ambassador-at-large Professor Tommy Koh, The Straits Times US correspondent Charissa Yong and China correspondent Danson Cheong spoke at...

Frustrated Britons rush home from Portugal to avoid Covid-19 quarantine, Europe News & Top Stories

June 6, 2021

June 6, 2021

LISBON (REUTERS) – Many frustrated British travellers were heading home on Sunday (June 6) from a shorter-than-expected holiday in the...

Turkey easing coronavirus restrictions further on July 1, Europe News & Top Stories

June 21, 2021

June 21, 2021

ISTANBUL (REUTERS) – Turkey is further relaxing restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, President Tayyip Erdogan said...

Opposition to critical race theory in US being harnessed by Republicans, say experts, United States News & Top Stories

June 26, 2021

June 26, 2021

WASHINGTON – The firestorm in Loudoun County, Virginia, had been brewing for weeks, with school board members receiving death threats...

EU warns Lebanon’s leaders of sanctions over ‘home-made’ crisis, Europe News & Top Stories

June 19, 2021

June 19, 2021

BEIRUT (REUTERS) – The European Union’s foreign policy chief told Lebanon’s leaders on Saturday (June 19) they were to blame...

Covid-19 pandemic, poverty loom over Mexican elections, World News & Top Stories

June 2, 2021

June 2, 2021

IZTAPALAPA, MEXICO (AFP) – The coronavirus pandemic has claimed thousands of lives in his impoverished district of Mexico City, but...

While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, June 1, World News & Top Stories

May 31, 2021

May 31, 2021

WHO switches to Greek alphabet for coronavirus variant names Covid-19 variants are to be known by letters of the Greek...