16 suspected illegal miners arrested in Driekop, Limpopo

16 suspected illegal miners arrested in Driekop, Limpopo

Members of the Limpopo Provincial Organised Crime, Air-wing and Tactical Response Team (TRT) have arrested 16 suspects for illegal mining.

The arrests were made during an intelligence-led joint operation in the Driekop policing area, outside Bugersfort.

The police pounced on the suspects after receiving a tip-off about a group of suspects allegedly mining chrome illegally in the Driekop area.

Items worth R10 million were confiscated during the operation. They include three excavators, a Nissan NP200 bakkie; seven spades and five hammers.

The Provincial Commissioner of Limpopo Lieutenant General Neke Ledwaba has commended the police for acting swiftly to arrest the suspects.

The 16 men will appear before the Praktiseer Magistrate’s Court soon as police investigations continue.

According to independent investigative researcher and technical adviser on illicit artisanal mining, Alan Martin, about 30 000 illegal miners work in and around thousands of disused and active mines across South Africa.

In an ISS Today article published in 2019, Martin says the illegal miners, widely known as Zama Zamas, are organised by criminal syndicates, and cause considerable financial losses and security headaches to established, publicly listed companies.

At least R21 billion in sales, taxes and royalties are estimated to be lost through illegal mining annually.