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.

Support the journalism that helps you navigate your world

Subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months* to gain access to this story and all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Looking for another offer?

Advertising

Your M&G

Did you enjoy this feature? The Mail & Guardian has a proud 35 year history of producing South Africa’s best-informed, independent journalism. Since the very beginning, we have relied on the support of paying subscribers to fund our writers.

Doing so guarantees our editorial independence and enables us to survive no matter what the bad actors, the economy or Covid-19 throws at us. Want to support the Mail & Guardian? You can get unlimited access to all of stories, plus our weekly crossword and subscriber events from just R99 a month.

×