Diamond Search-Scannex to ensure diamond security

Diamond Search-Scannex to ensure diamond security
Men and women at ground zero of Debswana’s diamond production mechanism strip naked and undergo a rigorous physical search daily after work.It is a practice they have had to live with for ages as the company takes every precaution to ensure that the high risk areas codenamed ‘Red’ and ‘Blue’ are secure enough for the precious stones.Management have, in a quest to replace the search system with x-ray technology, met insurmountable resistance that included having to convince the Mine Workers Union (MWU) that the Scannex system which is popularly used in other countries is actually a boon and not a bane.

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.

Eunice Mpoloka, the Senior Projects Manager at Debswana says the decision followed independent reviews that were carried out to determine the state of security affairs across all Debswana mines.“Significant security vulnerabilities and weaknesses were identified.The findings were confirmed by the 2010 internal security review which benchmarked mines within the De Beers Group of Companies (GoC).Debswana mines scored 44%, the lowest score within the GoC,” she said and added that a number of security projects that included surveillance system, access management system and scannex were initiated to address the state of security affair.At Venecia mine, different officials and security managers from De Beers make presentations on the success of the Scannex technology.They tell of how it has been used for over 20-years in South Africa and over 40-years in Namibian mines with no reported case of adverse health effect.The advantages of the scannex technology, Mpoloka says, are that it speeds up the search process, reduces irritations associated with queuing delays, protects employees against potential blackmail and coercion as it removes possibility of collusion.

“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.

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