Like most residents of the quaint riverside village of Vaaloewer, Gavin Aboud bought his large house overlooking the Vaal River for the promise of “peace and quiet”. “We moved here because this is our sanctuary,” says the burly-ﬁgured chair-person of the Vaaloewer Ratepayers Association, of his relocation from Bryanston, north of Johannesburg, a little over a year ago. ' Tucked between Vanderbijlpark and Parys, in southern Gauteng, the picturesque village touts itself as a “heavenly paradise” and an “oasis” for its scenic riverfront views. But Aboud’s refuge, he believes, is under threat because of the proliferation of sand mining projects on the banks of the river: “Look at those sand mines - they are right on top of us,” he says, frustrated, gesturing to mining operations opposite Vaaloewer. “It's like a desert. Nothing grows there. These companies are coming all the way down the river, but we can't allow it.”
In one of the latest applications, Goosebay Farm has applied to mine for sand, gravel and diamonds on the banks of the river. It recently ceased its sand mine run by Winners Point Trading 117, which held mining permits from 2010 to this year. It is listed in the Department of Mineral Resources’ 2017 list of operational mines as Pure Source Minerals Mining, with its owners as Goosebay Farm.