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By Citizen Reporter


‘We know where they are being sold,’ says Cele on illegally mined minerals

The Police Minister says there are ongoing operations that are being conducted to combat illegal mining.

Police Minister, Bheki Cele says police know where black market mined minerals are being sold.

Cele, alongside police commissioner Fannie Masemola and Hawks head Godfrey Lebeya, visited the North West on Tuesday, following the arrest of 20 alleged illegal miners, which included 15 foreign nationals.

On Monday, Hawks officers carried out a raid at a mine shaft in Stilfontein, where they seized a number of AK47s, 6 000 rounds of ammunition, explosives and an undisclosed amount of money.

ALSO READ: SA is failing in the battle against illegal mining, say experts

According to the police ministry, the 24 recovered firearms, some of which were stolen during house robberies, will be sent for ballistic testing.

The suspects will be appearing in court on Wednesday, on charges of conspiracy to commit robbery, illegal possession of gold, prohibited firearms and ammunition as well as contravention of the Immigration Act.


Speaking to the media in Stilfontein on Tuesday, Cele said there were other ongoing operations that are being conducted by the police to combat illegal mining.

“We are not stopping here… we will continue, but we do want to work with our sister departments, especially Home Affairs. As you have heard only five of these guys are South Africans [while] others come from Zimbabwe, eSwatini and Lesotho.

RELATED: Case against six alleged illegal mining kingpins postponed

“[We also] need to work with the Department of Minerals and Resources because it’s their responsibility and it’s them that have the capacity to close [these mine],” he said.

The minister indicated that illegal mining was rife across four provinces in particular – including Gauteng and Mpumalanga, adding that there are areas where zama zamas take over existing live mines.

“There’s one town in the North West where you could see yellow [construction] machines [and] think it is a legit mine, [but] it’s not,” he continued.

Cele, however, refrained from commenting on where the minerals extracted illegally were being sold.

“We know, but we are not going to tell you because that is what we are pursuing [otherwise] those guys will move.”

‘Grave concern’

Meanwhile, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister, Gwede Mantashe welcomed the arrests of the 20 zama zamas saying the scourge of illegal mining was of “grave concern” to government.

Last month, Mantashe described illegal mining as “criminal activity”, also warning that it would “reach crisis proportions” if not abated.

The minister said during a National Plenary discussion in Parliament that illegal mining posed a “threat to national security, government authority and socio-economic development” in the country.

READ MORE: ‘From cops to politicians’: Crime syndicates backing illegal mining well-protected

According to Mantashe, more than 6 000 “derelict and ownerless” mines in South Africa needed at least R49 billion for rehabilitation.

He previously indicated that around 40 mine holes were being sealed by Mintek every year.

“With this allocation, we can only rehabilitate at least three mines and seal off 40 shafts per year.

“The department has prioritised the rehabilitation of former asbestos mines because of the health hazards of asbestosis causing lung ailments, with a total of 270 derelict and ownerless asbestos mines,” he continued to say.

Approximately 135 holes in Gauteng have been closed over a three-year period.

Krugersdorp gang rape case

The scourge of illegal mining made national headlines in late July, after eight women were gang raped at gunpoint and their film crew robbed while they were shooting a music video at a mine dump in West Village, Krugersdorp.

Fourteen alleged illegal miners have since been arrested in connection with the Krugersdorp gang rape case.

The case against the suspects was postponed to 28 November 2022, for DNA testing and further investigations.

NOW READ: Police arrest 31 illegal miners in Kagiso

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