VILLAGERS dropped what they were doing, grabbed their picks and shovels, and climbed to the hilltop.

A herder in Hlathi Village in Ladysmith, KZN, had just announced he’d found a diamond.

When the diamond rush started on Wednesday, 9 June only the locals were involved, but soon people from other towns joined in the dig for what they believed to be real diamonds.

The situation is now out of control as diggers hope their stones are real diamonds and will lead to instant riches.

Councillor Sizwe Simelane said it’s hard to stop people from digging because they believe this is their ticket out of poverty.

“People are coming from Msinga, Newcastle and surrounding areas. The numbers keep growing. We don’t know when the digging will stop,” he said.

“They don’t want municipal or national representatives to come near because they believe they’ll sell them out if they discover the diamonds are real.”

He said if the diamonds are real the locals will be the first to be considered for job opportunities.

There are also villagers who believe the stone the man found is a real diamond. Others believe the area has quarts crystals.

Bongani Sithole (27) said: “I know people believe it’s a diamond, but to me it looks like quartz. I hope for their sakes that they leave room for disappointment.”

The stones they found while digging. Photos supplied

Villager Zinhle Dludlu (32) said they’d be happy even if the stones are quartz crystals.

“We’ll still make money because it’s used to manufacture watches, glasses and computers. But if it’s diamonds we’ll make lots of money,” she said.

Nomfundo Mvelase (36) said they’d be happy if government didn’t get involved because it would take the stones away from them.