The 33 alleged illegal gold miners arrested at Ellerton rehabilitated mine at Nhlaniki village, outside Giyani, are expected to appear in court this morning.
The illegal miners were arrested during a multi-disciplinary operation led by the Hawks working with the Department for Mineral Resource (DMR), Provincial Organised Crime Unit, Public Order Police, the Air Wing and Local Criminal Record Centre, on Friday.
Hawks spokesperson Captain Matimba Maluleke said the multi-disciplinary operation ensued following an outcry by the local community about the alleged illegal mining from the Ellerton mine that was closed in 2016.
“The team swooped on the abandoned mine and seized gold-bearing material, five vehicles and several mining types of equipment, including two generators, mining drill machines, camping tents, industrial hammers and a sieve valued at about R500 000,” Maluleke said on Monday.
Maluleke said they are still in a process of asserting the suspect’s correct identity.
Across South Africa, mining towns are under siege from illicit syndicates.
Employing thousands of desperate jobseekers‚ these syndicates known as the Zama-Zama’s ‚ who earn billions of rand annually through the illegal sale of precious metals and diamonds‚ are in fierce competition with global mining giants.
According to the Chamber of Mines, about 70% of all arrested illegal miners are undocumented foreign nationals and predominately from Lesotho.
The annual commercial value of illegal mining and illicit dealings in precious metals and diamonds is estimated to be over R7 billion, according to the organisation.
The Hawks have promised to continue with the operations to prevent the looting of mineral resources from Giyani, and from other districts in the province.
Meanwhile in Durban, two South African Revenue Services’ customs officials are also expected to appear at the Durban Magistrate Court today on charges of corruption.
The suspects were arrested in a sting operation after they allegedly demanded a R200 000 bribe from a businessman in order to evade tax obligations.
The matter was reported to the Hawks and an undercover operation was conducted.
They were caught red-handed after receiving cash from the complainant.