A group of 21 illegal miners was arrested in a sting operation by police in Mpumalanga.
Brigadier Leonard Hlathi, police spokesperson said the police in Mpumalanga have arrested the 21 suspected illegal miners.
“The suspects are facing charges of possession of gold bearing material as well as contravening of the Immigration Act.”
Hlathi said this follows a sting operation conducted between Wednesday, 23 June 2021 and Sunday, 27 June 2021.
“Operations took place at Dientjie, Pilgrim’s Rest, and Sabie to defuse the lethal activities carried out by suspects who put their lives as well as of others at risk as they continue mining illegally.”
He said during these operations, some suspects were found to be minors whilst others were illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
“The formations who participated in the operation include members from Mpumalanga Provincial Visible Policing Component who collaborated with Lydenburg, Standerton, Middelburg, Secunda, Ermelo, and Komatipoort K9 Units as well as Crime Prevention Unit members from Ehlazeni District.
He added that police are working in collaboration with the Immigration Officers as well as the Probation Officers as some of the suspects are in the country unlawfully.
“Eight minors were among the arrested, they are between the ages of 15 and 17, from Mozambique.”
Hlathi said several items believed to have been used during the illegal mining activities such as oxygen cylinders, a generator, cutting torch, chains, spades, and step ladders have been seized.
“Police have vowed to continue with their relentless efforts to bring these illegal acts to an end and also send out a stern warning to those who keep on stealing minerals as well as vandalising infrastructure in the process.
“At some stage, when police enforce the law in those old and disused mines, they are often met with attacks from the suspects.”
The Acting Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, Major General Thulani Phahla, has welcomed the arrests made whilst strongly condemning this behaviour which has been noticed throughout the province.
“These acts, not only do they cripple our economy but also place the lives of these individuals at risk.
“It is also shocking to learn that young children from neighbouring countries have also been sourced to participate in these illegal activities. This is worrying hence we will never tolerate such lawlessness to prevail neither will we stop such operations, “said General Phahla.