R20m gold seized in Hawks raid

2015-03-05 18:02

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The Hawks today launched a co-ordinated raid, simultaneously hitting 18 properties that they believe are associated with highly organised syndicates trading in illegal gold.

Targets included a gold refinery and three residential properties in Springs, Ekurhuleni, a farm in Limpopo and properties in Johannesburg.

By the afternoon they had seized 48kgs of gold (valued at almost R20 million) as well as gold smelting equipment and ammunition.

The raids are the final stage of Operation Tarantula, a covert project launched by the Hawks in 2013.

The Hawks had not planned to launch the raids today, but after learning that a large consignment of gold was about to be moved, they decided to swoop on their targets.

“This is huge, these are really organised syndicates that we are dealing with,” said Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi.

“They are not only dealing in South Africa, they have got contacts in Africa, Europe and Arab countries... With the ongoing investigation we will see if we cannot involve Interpol.”

Surprised neighbours in Springs described how a police helicopter landed in a suburban park mid-morning, accompanied by armed members of the SAPS task team.

Their target in this instance was Goldkid, a registered gold refinery owned by businessperson Andries Greyvensteyn.

Goldkid operates out of a compound on Nigel Road, Springs, protected by a 21-string electric fence, security cameras and a two-phase entrance gate. The Hawks said they also believed that there were armoured vehicles on the property.

However the fortifications proved insufficient as the Hawks used a Nyala to break through the wall.

“We had our search warrants and we requested to come in but it seems there was resistance,” said Mulaudzi. “Because of the high profile of this case, we had to ram the wall, so the task team assisted us in making sure that we infiltrated this house.”

The Hawks would not confirm whether Greyvensteyn was a suspect or how they believe Goldkid may have played a role in the illegal gold trade.

Greyvensteyn’s phone was switched off this afternoon and although his lawyer was present at the property, he was not able to provide City Press with a comment.

A few kilometres down the road in Presidents Dam, the Hawks closed off a street in order to search three houses.

Mulaudzi confirmed that by the afternoon they had found gold smelting equipment and large amounts of ammunition in these properties.

The Hawks said that although no arrests had been made, they anticipated that several arrests would be made over the next few days.

In total 46 people have been arrested since Operation Tarantula was launched.

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