Hundreds of illegal miners of various nationalities have been arrested in the Northern Cape. Photo supplied
The South African Police Service (SAPS) arrested 867 illegal miners in Kleinzee, just south-east of Port Nolloth in the Northern Cape, during a multi-disciplinary operation on illegal mining and immigration this past week.
The majority of those who were arrested are from Lesotho, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique, the provincial police commissioner, Lieutenant General Koliswa Otala, said in a video that SAPS released on Saturday.
Otala said that the suspects were taken to various courts in the province before being placed in different detention areas.
Illegal miners posed a risk to their own lives, he said, and the economy.
Illegal mining is prevalent along the vast open plains in the Northern Cape where abandoned mines still hold the promise of precious stones.
Just over a year ago, police apprehended 110 suspects at abandoned mines in the same Namakwa district. Of the 110, ninety were undocumented and were subsequently deported to their home countries.
During a separate operation in Carolina, Mpumalanga, an illicit mining task team closed down an illicit coal mine this week.
In a statement released on Friday, Brigadier Athlenda Mathe said the operation resulted in the arrest of a mine manager, while a search for the mine owner is underway. Mining equipment worth R60 million and coal valued at R12 million were seized during the operation.
The operations form part of the nationwide Operation Shanela – high density crime combating operations – which since launched on 8 May have effected over 145 000 arrests for crimes that include murder and assault.
Mathe said police visibility would be heightened this long weekend “to ensure the safety and security of everyone within South African borders through regular roadblocks and tracing of wanted suspects”.
The acting national police commissioner, Lieutenant General Tebello Mosikili, said “police are ready to respond to the call of duty” over the weekend.
“We are entering a very busy period of the year and on the side of the police we are also intensifying our crime combating efforts. All these successes would not have been possible without the support and assistance of our key stakeholders in the fight against crime – such as the business sector, private security and our communities,” said Mosikili.