Mines exploiting child labour in Africa – mining entrepreneur Radebe


(Mining Indaba, Cape Town) Mines exploit child labour in Africa and the world is doing little about it. This is the clear message from mining entrepreneur Bridgette Radebe, executive chairperson of Mmakau Mining, after the inaugural United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) breakfast round table, in the shadow of Table Mountain, running alongside the Mining Indaba.

“I don’t want my daughter, nephew and nieces to stand up at my age and say we didn’t do enough,” says Radebe.  

The message comes off the back of the Africa Union’s 2063 key principles that targets youth as vital stakeholders of business. Social impacts such as poor living conditions, forced labour in unregulated mining and sexual exploitation remain prevalent issues according to Lindiwe Mokate, Commissioner of the South African Human Rights Commission .


“Over the last 20 years, we have seen a negative impact from mining. Our research shows children are affected at every stage of mining. We have complaints from schools failing to be relocated, to environmental degradation of toxic water in Gauteng. Closed mines have caused houses to cracker and sink holes where children have drowned. There are cases of unregulated mining where unlisted mining use children,” says Mokate.

Radebe, who grew up in a township outside of mining town Klerksdrop, South Africa, was the first black female South African mine owner in the 1980s.

“It pains me to say, that goals set out by the 2014 mining charter have still not been met. Less than 40 per cent has been transformed to black management. We should have industrialisation….people shouldn’t be living in shacks. If you read those 2014 goals the deliverables by mining companies have not been delivered,” says Radebe .

According to UNICEF, by 2030 one in every three children will be African.