Johannesburg’s Executive Mayor, Herman Mashaba, has warned that the iconic FNB Stadium is at risk of collapse due to illegal mining activity taking place in the South African city.

Mashaba has hit out at the apparent inactivity of the national government to address the threat after a report in the Sunday Times newspaper claimed the city was on the brink of a disaster due to the mining.

Rail, port and pipeline company Transnet, as well as energy group Sasol, are said to have claimed that illegal miners are using explosives to blast rock underground and are coming within metres of gas and fuel lines.

Mashaba has now stated his “great shock and surprise” at the comments made by the Department of Mineral Resources in the wake of the latest reports regarding what he claims is an “imminent threat” faced by Johannesburg’s residents as a result of the use of explosives near highways, Transnet bulk fuel supply and Sasol gas pipelines travelling across the city.

The government department stated there is “no immediate threat to critical infrastructure as has been claimed” but in a lengthy statement outlining the risks, Mashaba said he has repeatedly raised the issue with the national government adding that FNB Stadium could be severely compromised.

“Of significance is the Nasrec precinct where the pipelines intersect with SASOL gas lines,” Mashaba said. “Investigations have revealed that if illegal mining activity continues within these old mining shafts, the entire FNB Nasrec precinct, including the iconic FNB stadium, could go down in ruins as a result of unstable earth directly underneath the area.

“The widespread use of explosives in decommissioned mines could have disastrous consequences for the residents of Johannesburg and may lead to large scale loss of life should these explosions rupture the oil and gas lines. We are informed that just last week, explosives were being used within two metres of the pipelines in Florida.

“While we note the move to further investigate the matter by the Department, given national government’s record on the matter so far, the proof will be in the pudding. More so, what is needed is decisive action to resolve the problem. This is the action the department must engage in. The time has come for national government to do the right thing, take this matter seriously and decisively act to protect our residents.”

The 94,700-capacity FNB Stadium, which is otherwise known as Soccer City, underwent a major upgrade to serve as the centrepiece of South Africa’s staging of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Image: Prosthetic Head