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By Citizen Reporter

Journalist


Specialised unit ‘a solution’ to deal with illegal mining – Mantashe

Minister says 'derelict and ownerless mines' were a problem for government.


Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe says he believes a specialised policing unit could be a solution “to a great extend” to tackle illegal mining in the country.

The police arrested more than 120 suspects linked to illegal mining in Krugersdorp so far following the alleged gang rape and robbery of a video production crew in West Village last week.

ALSO READ: Krugersdorp rape horror – why are cops only acting now against zama zamas?

This incident has since sparked protests in Kagiso, in the West Rand, with residents taking to the streets on Thursday calling for an end to illegal mining, which they say has been the root cause of the high levels of crime in the area.

One person was killed during the unrest as Kagiso residents chased out illegal miners from mine dumps and informal settlements in the area on Thursday.

‘Ownerless mines’

Speaking to Newzroom Afrika, Mantashe revealed that illegal mining in South Africa has cost government at least R42 billion in 2019 alone.

“It’s [a matter that] needs urgent attention. I have been talking with the Minister of Police [Bheki Cele] that we need to have a specialised unit dealing with illegal mining because sometimes you get all sorts of stories who are local getting entangled in the network. You need a specialised unit that will be brought in from time to time, from one area to the area,” he said.

Regarding mine closures, Mantashe indicated that “derelict and ownerless mines” were a problem for government.

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

“It’s more than a century of mining that we are talking about that’s why in Witswatersrand where there is minimal mining activities happening is a problem today and we are attending to those problems.”

According to mining analyst David van Wyk, more than 5,000 abandoned mines have been accounted for in the country.

“The problem is we have had large-scale industrial mining but never properly planned for mine closures and the transition into smaller scale mining. We have 6,000 abandoned mines. I don’t think a single mine closure certificate has been issued in SA,” he told The Citizen on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the minister said around 40 mine holes were being sealed by Mintek every 12 months.

Suspects appear in court

Meanwhile, 80 suspects arrested in connection to the Krugersdorp gang rape appeared in the Krugersdorp Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.

The 80 men were arrested in a police sweep at the scene of the alleged rape, but were not charged for rape.

The suspects, who were represented by Legal Aid, faced charges which included illegal mining, contravention of section 49 of the Immigration Act, unlawful use of explosives and firearms and possible attempted murder.

They are expected to return to court again on 10 August 2022, for their bail hearing.

NOW READ: Calls for permanent closure of abandoned mines to stop zama zamas