"Diamond" rush on tiny village likely to end in disappointment

"Diamond" rush on tiny village likely to end in disappointment
·2 min read

Johannesburg, South Africa — A tiny village in South Africa has been overrun by thousands of people searching for diamonds. The crowds poured in after a man reported finding a crystal-like stone in a field.

Africa does produce most of the world's diamonds — but not in the region that's been inundated by treasure hunters this week. As CBS News correspondent Debora Patta reports, the lack of any previous finds in the area hasn't stopping thousands of poor people from trying to dig their way to a better life.

It started with one chance discovery, but quickly turned into a mass-treasure hunt. Once word got out that a local herdsman had dug up what he thought was a precious stone, thousands of fortune seekers flocked to the small rural village in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

A man holds a stone he hopes to be a rough diamond after digging it up in Kwa-Zulu Natal province in South Africa.
A man holds a stone he hopes to be a rough diamond after digging it up in Kwa-Zulu Natal province in South Africa.

"I heard that people are digging diamonds here, so I said, 'No, let me come and take a try," Mduduzi Maphumulo said as he paused from his digging. Most of the people who have shown up have no idea what an uncut diamond looks like. Many have never even seen the final, polished product.

"I haven't seen or touched a diamond in my life," said Skhumbuzo Mbhele. "I hope this makes a difference, because we're really struggling." South African authorities have sent experts to the area, and one geologist at the site was skeptical, telling CBS News that it was unlikely the rough rocks being unearthed were really diamonds.

A person uses a pickaxe to dig as fortune seekers flock to the village after pictures and videos were shared on social media showing people celebrating after finding what they believe to be diamonds, in the village of KwaHlathi, outside Ladysmith, in KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa, June 14, 2021. / Credit: Siphiwe Sibeko/REUTERS
A person uses a pickaxe to dig as fortune seekers flock to the village after pictures and videos were shared on social media showing people celebrating after finding what they believe to be diamonds, in the village of KwaHlathi, outside Ladysmith, in KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa, June 14, 2021. / Credit: Siphiwe Sibeko/REUTERS

That hasn't stopped people from dreaming.

"If these were real diamonds it would really help me and my family, because everyone needs financial stability and everyone needs to get up in life," another diamond hunter said. Teams of geologists are collecting stones for further investigation.

The South African economy has taken a severe battering during the coronavirus pandemic, which is part of why this modern-day diamond rush has sparked such high hopes for better lives.

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