Dianne Hawker Dianne Hawker’s book is published by Tafelberg.
Arena Holdings PTY
When I first visited the Grootvlei mine in Springs in 2010, I was hit by the despair that hung over the community. It wasn’t only the workers but the whole town of Springs was shaken by the unravelling of the Aurora deal, which was already far gone. That sense of desperation remained in the numerous conversations I had with mineworkers, many of whom were hoping for a ray of light at the end of what was turning into an endless tunnel. I had spent 10 years covering this winding road of a story that had political and legal intrigue, and human rights concerns. In a way, I always knew this would be the book I would write. It was a question of when. Despite the story making headlines with every court appearance, it was difficult to properly understand what had really happened in the Aurora saga. Was it an accident that a group of people connected to the former president had bid for a mine, got it, but never paid the purchase price? The court cases that followed and which unfolded over several years, led by the Pamodzi liquidators and their lawyer John Walker, revealed that the story was more complex and more sinister than anyone initially anticipated. The Malaysian investor who was meant to fund the purchase was perhaps as much a work of fiction as bid documents submitted by the company. I also wanted to examine the roles of those acting behind the scenes, the Bhana family, who were advisers to the Aurora team along with that of liquidator Enver Motala who was later removed from the roll of liquidators. How to Steal a Gold Mine is a deep dive into what happens when political influence meets lack of oversight. It is a story of greed and very real human consequences: in this case, hundreds of workers remain destitute over a decade later. Some people have asked why write a book about a story from more than 10 years ago. The simple answer is that justice doesn’t have a timeline. In South Africa, we tend to jump from one scandal to another without following the full process to the point of true justice. While some money owing to the Pamodzi estate was later retrieved, I don’t believe justice has fully been served. To see this, one only has to speak to the mineworkers who are still hoping for some sort of payment for monies they are owed. This story is about them and how institutions meant to aid them failed dismally. I hope it will inspire action in those in positions of power to remedy some of what has gone wrong. And, if nothing else, it is a record of what should never be allowed to happen again.