Anti-illegal mining ops net equipment, ore, diamonds and weapons

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Ten days in December saw South Africa National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers detached to an Operation Prosper illicit mining task force make a multi-million Rand dent in the illegal activities of zama zamas nationally.

The soldiers, according to earlier SANDF information, are part of the current SA Army Light Modern Brigade (LMB) activated for the tasking.

Operation Prosper communication officer Lieutenant Randolph Mokhachane reported the multi-disciplinary taskings between 10 and 20 December 2023 yielded R24 730 337 worth of mining and other equipment, as well as 1 800 tons plus of “chrome stockpile” valued at R3.5 million and 218 “suspected diamonds”. The chrome ore was recovered in Burgersfort and the diamonds in Kimberley.

Other notable confiscations were vehicles and a tipper truck along with six weapons, ranging from .22 rifles to 9 mm pistols and ammunition and Mandrax, CAT, Nyaope and Zee block meth drugs. An SANDF uniform was also taken from a zama zama. Mining equipment confiscated and seized included blasting cartridges, detonator cords, fuses, several bakkies, generators, gas bottles, welders, grinders, phendukas, laser cutters etc.

Soldiers assisted police with the arrest of 200 “undocumented persons” from Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe seemingly involved in illegal mining. Fifteen were charged under the Contravention of Mining Rights Act with five charged under the Contravention of Precious Metals Act and another 10 arrested for apparent contraventions of sections of the Liquor Act, Mokhachane reported.

He further writes: “The public is advised and encouraged to follow the Joint Task Force Multi-Disciplinary operations and illegal mining on the South African National Force Facebook Page and X app where all related activities and successes of this operation are posted”.