Citizen Reporter
Reporter
3 minute read
30 Sep 2021
6:56 pm

Hawks seize 52.8ct of unpolished diamonds in Kimberley

Citizen Reporter

This happens as law enforcement is increasingly getting frustrated by illegal mining which is taking a firm stance in its traditional strongholds of Gauteng and North West and fast spreading into other provinces.

Picture: Petra Diamonds

Police have launched an investigation following a seizure of 52.8ct of unpolished diamonds worth about R41, 000 in a business premise selling bricks and sand in Kimberley.

“A joint operation by the Hawks Serious Organised Crime Investigation and Tactical Response Team executed a search and seizure operation at CJ Bricks, Madeliefie 2, Squere Hill Park, Kimberley today (Thursday) in relation to diamonds, said Hawks spokesperson Nomthandazo Mnisi.

“No arrests have been made as yet and investigation continues.”

Zama zama bosses are the real villains

This happens as law enforcement is increasingly getting frustrated by illegal mining which is taking a firm stance in its traditional strongholds of Gauteng and North West and fast spreading into other provinces.

Wherever these operations open up, crime soon becomes a major problem.

ALSO READ: Zama zama bosses the real villains

Although murders are the biggest issue, other violent and petty crimes soon envelop nearby communities.

The law enforcement authorities seem to take little action and, when they do, it normally focuses on the workers themselves, not on the brutal “kingpins” who control the gold trade and associated illegal activities.

Doubts on government’s plan

Theodore Petrus, associate professor of anthropology at the University of the Free State, was doubtful that the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s plans to establish an artisanal mining sector to curb illegal mining would be effective.

He said government had a bad track record in dealing with other forms of crime, and questioned whether the plan wasn’t just more window dressing.

“I guess time will tell if whether this will actually work… I think it remains to be seen what is going to come from the artisanal mining sector that the department is going to establish. I have my doubts,” Petrus said.

He said as long as corruption is still so rife, he has little faith that anything coming from a government department would bear much fruit.

“There is also the problem of corruption, where there are these corrupt law-enforcement officials who may turn a blind eye. Alternatively, you might have senior members in law enforcement who might be paid off,” Petrus added.

A multi-dimensional challenge

The Minerals Council of SA said it was working with mining companies and had heightened their security measures, working in with police to address illegal mining.

Council spokesperson Allan Seccombe said illegal mining was a multi-dimensional challenge that needed to be addressed from a range of perspectives, with a collective and multi-disciplinary approach.

ALSO READ: Zama zamas spread their roots as illegal mining moves across provinces

He said the complexity of illegal mining and the transnational trafficking of illegally mined minerals meant no single stakeholder could address it on its own and that collaboration, both locally and internationally, was key.

“The problem is exacerbated with rising unemployment in SA reaching record-high levels. Law enforcement and intelligence networks have limited resources and it is difficult to secure meaningful prosecutions of those involved in illegal mining, particularly those in the upper levels of the criminal syndicates,” Seccombe said.

He said it was difficult to get to the kingpins as the criminal syndicates that buy illegally mined minerals use front companies or legitimate exporters to sell these minerals.

Compiled by Siyanda Ndlovu, additional reporting by Sipho Mabena