The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has called on communities to continue reporting any suspicious activities that may lead to the arrest of suspects linked to illegal mining.
This after the arrest of at least 20 suspected illegal miners together with the seizure of 15 AK47s, six hunting rifles, two shotguns and one R5, boxes full of ammunition, explosives and an undisclosed amount of money in the North West on Monday.
Illegal mining has been thrust into the spotlight since the brutal rape of eight women in Krugersdorp allegedly at the hands of a gang of illegal miners.
“The [department]…welcomes the arrest of suspects alleged to have been involved in illegal mining operations and seizure of firearms by the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation [the Hawks].
“The DMRE appreciates the important role played by communities in fighting criminal activities and economic sabotage in society, including illegal mining. As such, we encourage members of communities to continue reporting any suspicious extraction minerals to law enforcement agencies,” the department said in a statement.
The DMRE lamented the negative impact that illegal mining poses on the economy with estimations revealing that the practice has cost the South African economy some R49 billion in 2019 alone.
“Illegal mining is a criminal activity that not only bleeds the economy, but also compromises national security and the integrity of our infrastructure.
“The scourge of illegal mining, regardless of where it is being conducted, is of grave concern to the government. It is for this reason that the DMRE supports the efforts of law enforcement agencies and mining industry stakeholders to eliminate illegal mining activities,” the statement read.
The department commended the work done by law enforcement in cracking down on the illegal practice.
“We commend the collaboration between the SAPS and the Hawks for a successful bust of such a serious criminal operation. We are confident that the arrested suspects will face the full might of the law and hope for a successful prosecution,” the department said.