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Compiled by Nicholas Zaal

Digital Journalist

16 alleged zama zamas arrested in daring simultaneous busts

The concurrent busts in Krugersdorp and Erkurhuleni also saw 34 undocumented people arrested and a large amount of mining equipment seized.

Police have arrested 16 people believed to be illegal miners at two illegal mining sites in Gauteng. They also arrested 34 undocumented people at these sites.

These simultaneous busts formed part of the multi-disciplinary illegal mining operation dubbed Vala Umgodi and included teams from police, the South African National Defence Force, Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Police Department and the Department of Home Affairs.

ALSO READ: Police arrest more than 300 undocumented foreign nationals for illegal mining in Gauteng

On Wednesday the teams descended on the West Rand and Ekurhuleni districts, arresting 11 people for suspected illegal mining. They arrested seven undocumented people in Krugersdorp in the West Rand and five people believed to be illegal miners and 27 undocumented persons in Crystal Park in the latter district.

Seizing the payload

Both teams seized illegal mining tools such as explosives, detonator cords, generators, phendukas (hand-driven cylinders), crush pots, spades, hammers and bags of gold bearing material.

“Police and community relations is key to fighting illegal mining hence the public is urged to report these illegal activities to their nearest police station or on the Crime Stop Line at 0860 010 111. Anonymous tip-offs can also be reported via MySAPS App,” the police said.

Zama zamas
More mining equipment is seized. Photo: SA Police/X

This comes almost a month after 94 undocumented illegal miners were arrested, and vast quantities of gold bearing material was seized during a hard-hitting police operation near Hartbeespoort Dam on Thursday.

Acting on information received, police pounced on the alleged zama zamas in Scheerpoort, seizing 139 generators worth R1.3 million.

Also seized were 24 grinders, 95 jackhammers, hammers, chisels, pick-axes, shovels, cutting torches, gas bottles, electric mills, phendukas (hand-driven cylinders) and explosives.

ALSO READ: Huge zama zama operation brought down near Hartbeespoort Dam

Upping the ante

In December, 395 South African National Defence Force (Sandf) members were tasked with helping fight the scourge of illegal mining in the Free State.

The Free State had been overrun by illegal miners, or zama zamas, with authorities and communities battling to stop operations and the crime that often follows.

The province also recorded an increase in murders in the last quarter, from July to September.

ALSO READ: Over 300 more soldiers called in to fight crime and zama zamas in the Free State