South Africa


In photos: See the destructive force of the Jagersfontein mine dam wall collapse

In photos: See the destructive force of the Jagersfontein mine dam wall collapse
Residents of Charlesville stand on what used to be their homes on Monday 12 September. The dam wall burst in Jagersfontein on Sunday morning. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Jagersfontein is a small town in the Free State that sprung up during the diamond rush of the 1870s. In the early hours of Sunday, 11 September, tragedy struck after a slime dam wall collapsed near the open-pit mine, causing a mudslide and flooding in several areas in the town. Initial reports said three people had died.

Daily Maverick photo editor Felix Dlangamandla visited the devastated area on Monday. It was clear that residents who are reeling from shock are left to pick up the pieces after the deadly disaster.

The death toll is still unclear amid conflicting reports,  with numbers varying from one to five. More than 500 animals were rescued and some had to euthanised.

The area of Charlesville has been hardest hit. Houses, personal belongings animals have been washed away. Cell phone towers have been damaged and roads cut off.  Power and water supplies have been affected.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Free State mine dam burst floods kill three; four people critically injured

Rubble and power plugs hang out of a window following the mine dam wall collapse.

Adam Makhwane assesses the damage to his house.

Adam Makhwane walks to his damaged house.

One of the houses destroyed after the dam wall collapsed.

Duan Mathee with a cat he rescued after disaster struck.

Cars wedged in the mud in Jagersfontein.

We have been raising these issues consistently for the past 11 to 12 years that this particular dam which is a few metres away from the community would create problems for our community and it happened this weekend (Kopanong mayor Xolani Tseletsele)

Residents of Charlesville survey the homes and cars destroyed or damaged in the flooding and mudslide.

Charlesville residents walk among the destruction.

The cell phone towers have been damaged affecting communication, there is no electricity and not a drop of drinkable water. Some of the roads have been cut off (Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, Gift of the Givers)

Nomzwakhe Saula sits with her family on what used to be a home.

Police search-and-rescue teams check houses.

A grey wasteland has replaced homes in Charlesville.

Houses were left embedded in mud.

Houses surrounded by mud.

Due to the current situation in the Jagersfontein area and inaccessibility of our substation, it is impossible to estimate when supply will be restored or to determine the extent of the damage (Eskom’s Stefanie Jansen van Rensburg)

Washed away and desolate: Charlesville in the aftermath.


Dr. Imtiaz Sooliman from Gift of the Givers has called for donations of bottled water, food, blankets and mattresses as well as fodder, antibiotics and special feed for lambs.

“The area of Charlesville appears to be most affected with the sudden collapse of a mining dam wall in Jagersfontein pouring out thousands of litres of sludge. Houses, personal belongings and many sheep have been washed away, three bodies have been discovered and community members are missing. The cell phone towers have been damaged affecting communication, there is no electricity and not a drop of drinkable water. Some of the roads have been cut off,” he said.

“A local church has opened its doors for shelter and accommodation. Immediate requirements include bottled water, bulk food for cooking, blankets, mattresses, clothing, hygiene items, sanitary pads and diapers. Fodder for sheep will also be required. Gift of the Givers teams are currently packing supplies at Bethlehem, Graaff-Reinet, Gqeberha and Cape Town, with the first delivery expected later today in Jagersfontein.

“Gift of the Givers has received requests for assistance from Premier Sefora Ntombela, the SAPS, the farming community and local community members. The heads of the Free State Disaster Management, Markus Butler and Justin Colbert are Gift of the Givers Search and Rescue team members. We will be getting updates directly from them once the network is functional. Arrangements will be made to provide fodder for the sheep,” he said.

Drop off zones are on or people can phone 0800 786 911. – Estelle Ellis.



Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Mark Fischer says:

    The media (most) are not showing many images of the actual dam area / tailing wall that collapsed, along with the state of this wall in the prior months. Surely it is not that hard to get a drone in the air ? Who are the mine owners / parties responsible for management of this tailings hazard ? Which national / provincial government department should be inspecting old mine dumps and mitigating the risks we now see inflicted on this community?

  • Johann Rheeder says:

    The corrupt politicians, make the not so corrupt 5%, look bad!!

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