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Twelve suspects, including two teenagers, will be spending Christmas Day behind bars, after being arrested for their alleged role in an illegal gold processing laboratory
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The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), also known as the Hawks, managed to lift the lid on an illegal gold processing laboratory in Mpumalanga, arresting at least 12 people including two teenagers.
“Twelve suspects including two minors were arrested last night in an intelligence driven disruptive operation conducted by members of the Hawks Serious Organized Crime Investigation Nelspruit and Middelburg assisted by National Intervention Unit, Bomb disposal, Tactical Response Team, Local Criminal Record Center, SAPS Barberton and SSG Security Services at Brown’s farm in Barberton,” said Hawks provincial spokesperson Captain Dineo Lucy Sekgotodi.
“Information received led to the discovery of the illegal laboratory operating on the farm whereby a group of illegal miners are employed to illegally process the gold”Hawks provincial spokesperson Captain Dineo Lucy Sekgotodi
The Hawks claim upon arrival at the scene, they were drawn to the sound of hammers, which was coming from the nearby bushes. They wasted no time swooping in and managed to arrest 10 suspects, including two underage boys aged 15 and 16.
The elite crime-busting unit continued digging into the matter and found that two individuals – one in Gauteng and another in Mpumalanga – were running the operation.
“The team followed the information on the Mpumalanga boss which led to a nearby house where the suspect was hiding. When penetrating the house, they found a man on crutches who indicated that he was injured in an illegal mining accident,” Sekgotodi added.
When combing through the man’s home, they came across a treasure trove of evidence, including gold bearing materials. The suspect was subsequently handcuffed and charged with possession of the gold bearing materials.
“He was also charged for contravening section 43 of Basic Conditions of Employment Act of 2017. His vehicle, a silver ford ranger double cab which is suspected to be used in the commission of crime was also confiscated for further investigation”
The operation did not stop there as authorities also conducted a search in another house and found a rifle, telescope and live ammunition – which were all confiscated.
A 20-year-old man was subsequently handcuffed and now faces charges of illegal possession of the firearm and ammunition.
They found different kinds of weapons including pendukas and hammers. Other items found were generators, cellphones, gold bearing material, chemicals and gas cylinders containing mercury.
The suspects will appear before the Barberton Magistrate Court on Monday 28 December 2020.