They have since won that part and last week as they looked forward to obtaining the Scannex licencing from the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) they decided to take the media on an appreciation tour of the security system at Debswana’s Orapa mine and De Beers operations at Venetia mine in South Africa.
There has been health and human rights issues surrounding the Scannex technology, but the general consensus of late has been that the old system is not effective at all.
As a matter of fact, indications are that 36% of the diamonds stolen from Debswana mines left the premises hidden in the thieves’ anuses.
Police have recorded 98 cases of illicit diamond dealings and in most of them each case involved more than one diamond.
This is the damning implication as we begin the tour of the high security sections of the Orapa mine.
Surveillance cameras are mounted strategically in different controlled sections of the mine.
Breath tests are an acceptable safety requirement at entry points, but at the exit, the miners wait with looks of forlorn despair as they take turns in the humiliating, near nude body searches.
When necessary, diamond thieves can manipulate their way around the security cameras, but they still need to escape the watchful eye of the searcher at the exit point.
Moses is the searcher on duty.
He exchanges shifts with other searchers, but after years of hard work, the old geeser whose eyes look blurry behind his worn out spectacles, seems to be tired of the tormenting routine of starring at hundreds of naked men everyday.
In that section of the security operation he’s prohibited from lengthy conversations, but the grin he manages to force through his grey whiskers suggests he’s not complaining about the money he gets for his troubles.“Yeah we’re getting by,” he says as he calls in another journalist for the search.
Moses’ not so dignified job involves getting the employees to enter the search point one by one and strip and remain only with their underwear.
But by the time he knocks off with the satisfaction of a job well done, a few diamonds could be shoving their way up some miner’s rectum and out of the premises.
This has been a major concern for Debswana management and the media visit has provided a window into their renewed optimism to introduce the more efficient Scannex technology.
The aim now is to introduce the 10 low dosage X-ray machines, known as Scannex at their operations.
Four will be in Orapa, another four at Jwaneng while Letlhakane and Damtshaa mines will each get one.
“With this technology we can detect our diamonds even in areas where the sun does not shine,” she says adding that the technology does not only act as a detector for diamond theft but also as a deterrent which serves the purpose of reducing temptation from employees being involved in theft or organised crime.
The equipment is expected to cost about P40million and Debswana are still awaiting approval from the Department of Environmental Affairs before introducing the system.