Limpopo police nab two alleged illegal mining bosses

2017-07-22 14:19

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Cape Town - Police in Limpopo say they have arrested two illegal mining kingpins linked to the buying and sale of chrome to foreign countries. 

The suspects, aged 40 and 62, were arrested on Thursday evening by the police’s organised crime unit.

A Toyota Hilux and laptops in their possession were confiscated. 

Limpopo police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said the pair will appear in court in Lebowakgomo on Monday, on charges related to contravening sections of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Act and the National Environmental Maintenance Act.

He described the arrests as a "major breakthrough".

Police and the department of mineral resources have, since late May, been trying to cripple the illegal mining industry in the province by arresting miners and confiscating their machinery. 

The operation is being led by the Deputy Provincial Commissioner Major General Bafana Linda. 

In addition to the two alleged kingpins, nine other suspects have been arrested since the start of the operation. 

Police have focused their attention on the area surrounding the R37 between the towns of Lebowakgomo and Burgersfort.

In addition to the arrests, Mojapelo said mining machinery including excavators, tractor loader backhoes, trucks and unprocessed chrome had been confiscated since the start of the operation. 

Legal chrome mining companies and prospectors in the area have been asking the police to put a stop to illegal chrome mining.

Last year then Deputy Minister of Police Maggie Sotyu said corruption was the main enabler of illegal mining. 

Speaking to a UN meeting to combat illicit trafficking in precious metals in March 2016, Sotyu said the illegal trade in precious metals was "always linked to a pervasive corruption".  

She also described precious metals syndicates in South Africa as highly sophisticated, and said good governance was needed to root out their room to operate. 

"Corrupt officials are always enablers to the illicit trafficking of precious metals, by renting out firearms during extensive turf war violence and murders in illegal mining, [and] by allowing organised syndicates to operate at border-gates," she said.

Read more on:    polokwane  |  mining

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