Abandoned mines such as Kleinzee, Nuttabooi, Bontekoe and Oubeep were targeted during the operation. About 300 alleged illegal miners were found digging at Nuttabooi (above). (Photo: David Harrison)
Immigration authorities are deporting 90 undocumented people to their respective countries after a joint police operation at illegal mines in the Northern Cape’s Namakwa district.
The detained people are on their way from Springbok to the Lindela Repatriation Centre in Gauteng, where they will stay until they are repatriated, said Colonel Mashay Gamieldien, the South African Police Service’s media officer in the province.
The 90 detainees are among 110 people who were apprehended by police at abandoned mining sites last week.
Gamieldien told the Mail & Guardian 104 undocumented people had appeared at the Springbok magistrate’s court on Friday to answer charges relating to the Immigration Act. Of these, 90 were found guilty and issued with deportation warrants.
The arrests followed a two-day joint operation led by the Northern Cape’s acting deputy commissioner for policing Brigadier Hennie van Rensburg and involving the police, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, state security, as well as the departments of home affairs and mineral resources and energy.
Abandoned mines such as Kleinzee, Nuttabooi, Bontekoe and Oubeep were targeted during the operation. About 300 alleged illegal miners were found digging at Nuttabooi.
Equipment to the value of R3.5-million was seized, including 130 generators, 121 jackhammers, five vehicles, spades, chisels, drilling machines, picks and grinders. Drugs and one firearm were also found and confiscated.
“The joint operation was aimed at disrupting illegal mining activities, arresting illegal miners, the identification and processing of undocumented persons and the confiscation of mining equipment and implements used,” Gamieldien said in a statement.
Acting provincial commissioner Major General Koliswa Otola said similar operations would be conducted across the province, focusing on illegal mining activities.
Gamieldien told the M&G in June, for its War for Diamonds series, that police in Northern Cape had prioritised illegal mining, “specifically in the Namaqua area where illegal mining is predominant in the Port Nolloth and Kleinzee areas”.
“The police, in conjunction with external stakeholders and departments, are currently in the process of addressing this concern as a matter of urgency,” she said.
According to Gamieldien, from 2018 to 2021, police made 868 arrests for illegal mining and mining-related offences in Port Nolloth and the Kleinzee area.