Real-life treasure: Shepherd's discovery of unidentified gems causes 'diamond fever' to grip South African village as 1,000 fortune-seekers flock to the area

Real-life treasure: Shepherd’s discovery of unidentified gems causes ‘diamond fever’ to grip South African village as 1,000 fortune-seekers flock to the area

More than 1,000 fortune seekers have flocked to a South African village in search of what they believed to be diamonds after a shepherd discovered unidentified stones in the area.

People travelled from across the country on Monday to join villagers in KwaHlathi in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province.

Locals have been digging since Saturday after a herd man dug up the first stone, which some believe to be quartz crystals, in an open field and put out the word.

The discovery was a life changer, said one digger, Mendo Sabelo, as he held a handful of tiny stones.

‘This means our lives will change because no one had a proper job, I do odd jobs. When I returned home with them, [the family was] really overjoyed,’ the 27-year-old father of two told Reuters news agency.

More than 1,000 fortune seekers have flocked to a South African village in search of what they believed to be diamonds after a shepherd discovered unidentified stones in the area

People travelled from across the country on Monday to join villagers in KwaHlathi in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province digging for the stones

Locals have been digging since Saturday after a herd man dug up the first stone, which some believe to be quartz crystals, in an open field and put out the word

One digger said the shepherd’s discovery was a life changer in an area where many are without stable employment

‘Fortune seekers’ rush to KwaHlathi to dig for diamond-like gems

Unemployed Skhumbuzo Mbhele agreed, adding: ‘I hadn’t seen or touched a diamond in my life. It’s my first time touching it here.’

South Africa’s mines department said on Monday that it was sending a team made up of geological and mining experts to the site to collect samples and conduct an analysis.

A formal technical report will be issued in due course, the department said.

The lack of an analysis of the stones has not deterred the fortune seekers as long lines of parked cars on both sides of the gravel road could be seen just a few metres from the open field, where the young, old, female and male dug through the soil with picks, shovels and forks to find riches.

South Africa’s mines department said on Monday that it was sending a team made up of geological and mining experts to the site to collect samples and conduct an analysis

technical report on the stones will be issued in due course, South Africa’s mines department said

The lack of an analysis of the stones has not deterred the fortune seekers as long lines of parked cars on both sides of the gravel road could be seen just a few metres from the open field

The young, old, female and male dug through the soil with picks, shovels and forks to find the potential riches

South Africa’s economy has long suffered from extremely high levels of unemployment, trapping millions in poverty and contributing to stark inequalities. Pictured: A man inspects what he believes to be a diamond

Some people have already started selling the stones, with the starting price ranging from 100 rand (£5.15) to 300 rand (£15.46)

South Africa’s economy has long suffered from extremely high levels of unemployment, trapping millions in poverty and contributing to stark inequalities that persist nearly three decades after the end of apartheid in 1994. The coronavirus pandemic has made it worse.

Some people have already started selling the stones, with the starting price ranging from 100 rand (£5.15) to 300 rand (£15.46).

The provincial government has since requested all those involved to leave the site to allow authorities to conduct a proper inspection, amid fears the people digging at the site could potentially be spreading the coronavirus.

It expressed concern on Twitter over what it called a ‘diamond rush,’ writing that it had ‘noted with concern, the reports of illegal mining activity taking place at KwaHlathi outside Ladysmith.’

The provincial government has since requested all those involved to leave the site to allow authorities to conduct a proper inspection

There are fears that the large number of people digging at the site could potentially be spreading the coronavirus

The provincial government said on Twitter it had ‘noted with concern, the reports of illegal mining activity taking place at KwaHlathi outside Ladysmith’

 

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