War for diamonds: Toil and triumph on the rich barren plains

South of the Orange River lies the Northern Cape, whose barren landscapes are painted with red Kalahari sand. At sunset, a combination of vivid orange and red fills the skies. At night the celestial sphere covers the region in a soft glow, and a heavy silence befalls the semi-desert plains. 

But don’t be fooled by the beauty. Life here is hard for the residents.

“Welcome to the world of struggle,” greets Brian (surname withheld), from underneath a makeshift shadow net that blocks out the sweltering sun, but not the heat, at Bontekoe mine, about 70 km south-east of the province’s small town of Port Nolloth.

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