11 Illegal Miners Nabbed in Limpopo and Assets Worth R3m Seized: "Arrest Them All"

11 Illegal Miners Nabbed in Limpopo and Assets Worth R3m Seized: "Arrest Them All"

  • A group of alleged zama-zamas was arrested in a joint law enforcement operation between SAPS and the Hawks in Limpopo
  • They were running an illegal mining operation at the Chromnet mine and confiscated multi-million rand plant hire equipment
  • Locals berated the scale of the illegal mining problem in South Africa, with others calling for more stern regulations to guard against the ill

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NORTHAM - The Hawks pounced on 11 alleged illegal miners and seized plant hire equipment worth over R3 million at the Chromnet mine in Northam outside Thabazimbi in Limpopo on Thursday.

The Hawks' Serious Organised Crime Investigation Unit in conjunction with the South African Police Service (SAPS) found the suspects, including a man who claimed to own the equipment, in the act of mining chrome at the non-operational shaft, TimesLIVE reported.

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Zama zamas, Illegal miners, Law enforcement, Operation, South African Police Service, SAPS, Hawks, Limpopo, Mining operation, Chromnet mine, Plant hire equipment
A group of alleged illegal miners have been arrested in Limpopo. Image: Mujahid Safodien/ AFP
Source: Getty Images

Hawks Limpopo spokesperson Captain Matimba Maluleke said the joint law enforcement operation resulted in the seizure of mining vehicles comprising two tractor loader backhoes (TLB) and one horse truck with two trailers.

"Eleven alleged illegal miners were arrested at the mine. As they were being detained, and the vehicles they were found with seized, one of the men approached officers and claimed to be the owner of the equipment," said Maluleke.

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The unknown man allegedly attempted to offer police a R15 000 bribe for the said equipment to be released but was also arrested, according to Maluleke, who said the group will appear in the Northam Magistrate's Court in due course.

Thousands of abandoned mines

"The alleged owner of the vehicles will appear in the Thabazimbi Magistrate's Court to face a charge of corruption. Similar joint law enforcement operations will be conducted to address illegal mining activities in Limpopo," Maluleke added.

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SABC News reported that while laws are in place for mining rehabilitation, many operators leave their non-functioning shafts unattended, leading to illegal mining activities.

The Benchmarks Foundation's David van Wyk said the number of abandoned mines across the country was on the rise despite existing legislation to curb this. He said billions have been allocated for the rehabilitation of mining spaces, yet this money remains unused.

"There are about 2 000 abandoned mines in South Africa. The Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act points out the steps that need to be adhered to in the event of a mine closure. It also discusses the penalties for mining companies that don't follow the proper procedures," said van Wyk.

Locals berate closed mines

Briefly News takes a look at some of the reactions below.

South African social media users were vocal about the arrests and shared varying sentiments in response. Some netizens called for more arrests of illegal miners, while others criticised the scale of non-operational mines in the country.

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@Lucky Mo wrote:

"But that's hustling, government is failing open and legalise those mines so that people can work."

@Smart Moyo Tumbare said:

"By doing all these you are protecting the resources of the country from the blacks for the colonists, why Africa is so captured can't we do something to free this continent from colonial rules."

@Godfrey Mbhiza added:

"Arrest all of them, even those who are planning to take part in this illegal mining, arrest them before they even start doing it. We don't want this nonsense they are doing."

Bodies of 20 alleged illegal miners found decomposed

Elsewhere, Briefly News previously reported that SAPS opened inquest dockets after finding the remains of 20 unidentified males at two locations in Orkney, Klerksdorp.

According to SAPS, the first five bodies, which were decomposed, were found on Tuesday at 7 pm outside an unused, old mine ventilation shaft. On Wednesday, 14 more decomposed bodies were found.

The police received information that another body was found where the first five were. This brought the total number of bodies to 20. The deceased men were believed to be illegal miners that were working in shafts in Stilfontein and Orkney.

Source: Briefly News

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