Military involvement in reining in illegal mining successful – Modise

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The deployment of SA National Defence Force (SANDF) elements, particularly soldiers, in the national effort to curb illegal mining has resulted in what Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise termed “increased and demonstrable success” for Cabinet’s Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster.

She was replying to a question asked by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) public representative Khanya Ceza who wanted the minister’s take on the success or otherwise of using soldiers and other government departments to rein in zama zama operations nationally.

Modise’s response has it the SANDF elements and other JCPS departments and stakeholders are force multipliers in the anti-illegal mining operation currently set to run to end April. “So far, the deployment of the SANDF under Operation Prosper has resulted in increased and demonstrable success for the security cluster,” she told her questioner, adding the national defence force is not mandated to investigate criminal syndicates and is not involved in investigating them as it is the role of other departments and agencies to do so.

Northern Cape’s Namakwa district provides a recent example of a successful multi-disciplinary operation against illegal miners.

A SAPS report has it the multi-disciplinary team of police, soldiers, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the Department of Justice and Correctional Services and a private security company (Vetus Schola) raided an informal settlement in the Nuttabooi mining area on 29 January. During disruptive actions the teams seized and confiscated mining implements including generators, sieves, jack hammers, inverters, safety boots, overalls, gas cylinders as well as a television set, cooking utensils and gas stoves. All items were in an unoccupied shack. The operation – Vala Umgodi – focussed on rising crime in the area and transnational offences. This saw 24 undocumented people arrested.

In December, 10 days of national multi-disciplinary operations saw mining equipment, ore, diamonds and weapons valued at over R24 million confiscated as far apart as Kimberley in the Northern Cape and Burgersfort in Limpopo. The chrome ore stockpile in Limpopo is valued at R3.5 million.