43 zama zamas arrested for illegal mining in Limpopo
Police confiscated 12 generators, 10 jackhammers valued at R170 000 and chrome estimated to be more than a million rand.
Picture for illustration purposes. Kagiso residents try to apprehend illegal miners in a makeshift mine shaft, 4 August 2022, following a protest against illegal mining and rising crime associated to the mining in the area. Picture: Michel Bega
Forty-three male suspects, aged between 18 and 43, have been apprehended for illegal mining and Contravening the Immigration Act.
According to police spokesperson, Colonel Malesela Ledwaba, the suspects were accosted during a joint intelligence operation conducted by the members of the provincial illegal mining task team, provincial organised crime unit together with the RR Undercover security company at Ga-Phasha village under Sefateng mine jurisdiction in the Mecklenburg policing precinct on Tuesday.
The suspects are expected to appear at the Mecklenburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, 13 April 2023, facing charges of illegal mining and Contravention of Immigration Act.
“Police received information about illegal mining activities taking place in the area and swiftly reacted.
“Upon arrival, police found the suspects busy mining a precious metal (Chrome) at the mine without authorisation. When the suspects noticed police presence, they ran into the nearby bushes and others went inside the self-made tunnels in an attempt to evade arrest,” said Ledwaba.
Seized goods and nationalities
Reports also revealed that police confiscated 12 generators, 10 jackhammers valued at R170 000 and chrome estimated to cost more than a million rand.
The male suspects are 41 undocumented Zimbabweans, one Mozambican national and one South African citizen.
“Police will stop at nothing in ensuring that the perpetrators of these crimes are arrested and ultimately incarcerated for justice to prevail,” concluded Lieutenant General Thembi Hadebe.
In January, at least eight suspected illegal miners died at a chrome mine in Limpopo.
It is understood the miners, who were digging for chrome at ga-Maroga village, died when they were allegedly trapped underground.
At the time, police in Driekop outside Burgersfort opened an inquest docket. The miners are also suspected to be foreign nationals.
After this incident, Hadebe warned community members to desist from engaging in illegal mining activities reiterating that it is unsafe and also against the law.
“As a province, we have established a team to deal with illegal mining activities around the province, especially in the areas along the R37 road in Sekhukhune District and many illegal miners have been arrested with mining equipment confiscated,” said Lieutenant General Hadebe.
*Additional reporting by: Faizel Patel