57 illegal miners arrested in police operation in Limpopo.
A total of 57 illegal mining suspects were apprehended during separate incidents in the targeted areas, with additional arrests made during roadblocks, stop-and-search operations in identified hotspot areas. The success of the operation is evident in the diverse range of charges and contraband uncovered.
In the early hours of Friday, 1 December, the District Commissioner of Sekhukhune, Major General Junior Lehabe-Metsi, led a comprehensive operation against illegal mining in the district.
The operation, supported by members of the South African Police Service (Saps), South African National Defence Force (SANDF), private security firms, and various government departments, aimed to disrupt illegal mining activities concentrated in Apel, Mecklenburg, Driekop, and Burgersfort policing areas.
The outcomes of the operation include:
- Illegal mining: 57 suspects
- Illegal immigrants: 18 individuals
- Suspected stolen property: One case
- Expired food: One case
- Liquor Act violations (shebeens closed): Multiple
- Road Traffic Act violations: 16 cases
- Driving under the influence of alcohol: One case
- Trademark violations: One case
- Firearm Control Act violations: One case
- Second-hand goods violations: One case
Among the seized items were a truck, two firearms, an excavator, thirty-three generators, sixty-one wheelbarrows, three jackhammers, twenty-five shovels, and various other tools used in illegal mining activities. Additionally, law enforcement confiscated 340.500 litres of alcohol.
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Provincial commissioner of police in Limpopo, Lieutenant General Thembi Hadebe, commended the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders involved in the operation.
She expressed appreciation for the significant results achieved, emphasizing the importance of unity in combating criminal activities and safeguarding the province’s valuable minerals.
“This is a sign that as a team, we will always win against criminals. Let’s keep on supporting each other and protect the minerals of this province and ensure safety for our citizens,” Hadebe said.
The arrested suspects are expected to appear before various magistrate courts, and police investigations are ongoing to uncover any further details related to the illegal mining activities and associated crimes.
More than 100 illegal miners arrested
Meanwhile, police and members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) have arrested more than 100 suspected illegal miners in Primrose, Ekurhuleni.
The Friday joint raid came after complaints about illegal mining by zama zamas and random shootings in the area.
“Members of the SAPS, SANDF, Department of Home Affairs and other law enforcement agencies descended on Marathon informal settlement in Primrose.
“The team arrested more than 100 undocumented persons who are also suspected to be involved in illegal mining in the area,” police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Mavela Masondo.
ALSO READ: More than 100 illegal miners arrested in Ekurhuleni
R49 billion needed to rehabilitate illegal mines
Minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, said there were 6 100 derelict and ownerless mines, which negatively impacted operational and licensed mines.
“Some of these mines are old and the owners cannot be traced,” she said.
Ntshavheni said while about 40 mine holes were being sealed every year, there was a plan to close all the illegal mines across the country.
“The Department of Mineral Resources is working on the policy matter to close all the illegal mines in the country,” the minister said.
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She further expressed government’s support for the practice of artisanal mining.
“Government is of the view that some of those ownerless mines can be used for artisanal mining that is done legally. The Department of Mineral Resources is working on a draft policy paper for artisanal mining and they are finalising a process of those who want to conduct artisanal mining, which then will remove the illegal miners from going back,” Ntshavheni added.
Mineral Resources and Energy Minister, Gwede Mantashe previously indicated that at least R49 billion was needed rehabilitate illegal mines.
Additional reporting Getrude Makhafola and Molefe Seeletsa