The Hawks in Mpumalanga are aiming at disrupting illegal mining activities in the province. PHOTO: Hawks

Zama-zama miners dealing in illegal gold arrested

The Hawks arrested six suspects, including a 77-year-old man, for possession of gold-bearing material and illegal mining in Mpumalanga.


The Hawks in Mpumalanga are aiming at disrupting illegal mining activities in the province. PHOTO: Hawks

Illegal miners, better known as zama-zamas, were arrested for being in possession of gold-bearing materials in Mpumalanga.

The six suspects were caught for illegally dealing in gold, said the Hawks.

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The Mpumalanga Hawks’ efforts aim to disrupt illegal mining activities in the province.

They put together a multidisciplinary intelligence-driven operation. It consisted of the Hawks’ Nelspruit Serious Organised Crime Investigation Unit, the National Intervention Unit, the Tactical Response Team and the Department of Home Affairs.

This team managed to trace and bust six suspects in Matsulu C on Friday, said Hawks spokesperson Captain Dineo Lucy Sekgotodi.

During the joint operation, law enforcement found two laboratories which were operating and dismantling gold-bearing materials.

The Hawks said seven suspects were arrested for illegal gold-bearing materials and mining. PHOTO: Hawks


“Numerous mining equipment, implements and a vehicle were seized for further investigation. The six were arrested for illegal possession of gold-bearing materials and illegal dealing in gold on two separate premises respectively.”

Captain Diineo Lucy Sekgotodi

The six zama-zamas appeared before the Kabokweni Magistrate’s Court on Friday. The oldest suspect is 77-year-old Mozambican national, Bagayi John Shongwe.

The remaining suspects are Godfrey Siyabonga Sithole, 45, Zimbabwean national, Simone Tobias Macha, 25, Musa Matimela, 58, Godfrey Mongezi, 32, and Nkosinathi Vilakazi, 25.

They are remanded in custody and will reappear before the court on Monday for legal representation and further investigation.

“The Provincial Head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation Major General Zodwa Mokoena expressed her sincere gratitude and appreciation to all role-players who participated in the execution of the operation,” Sekgotodi said.


The Northern Cape police are also on the heels of illegal mining activity. Earlier this month, a joint operation arrested 300 illegal miners. They were caught red-handed while digging at the identified site.

This operation operated with aircraft support which guided police on the ground, directing them to the illegal mining site, said spokesperson Colonel Mashay Gamieldien.

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“Numerous mining equipment and implements, as well as five vehicles were seized during the operation. This includes 130 generators and 121 jack-hammers, spades, chisels, drilling  machines, picks and grinders.”

The equipment and vehicles seized are estimated to be valued at R3.5 million.