Tag Archives: Zama Zamas

Zama Zamas & The ‘Snake That Breathes Fire’

  Steep stairs lead to the “FNB” entrance at the abandoned gold mine shaft in Langlaagte, west of Johannesburg. They become even narrower as the hole – named after one of the largest banks in the country, for the riches the shaft produces for the Zama Zama’s (the so-called “illegal” miners) — looms. To descend […]


  Illegal mining operations are believed to cost South Africa over US$500-million each year. Very little attention is paid to the human cost. In South Africa, illegal miners are known as “Zama Zamas”. Zama Zamas typically work existing mine shafts that have been abandoned or closed by large mining houses. Zama Zamas gain illegal access to these shafts […]