The men had pleaded guilty to charges of robbery with aggravating circumstances after their arrest in Orkney in 2021.
A join statement of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) explained that the illegal miners were arrested during a law enforcement operation which turned violent.
“They were arrested during an intelligence driven operation led by the Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation, assisted by the Special Task Force and the District Illicit Mining Task Team. The operation was a culmination of months of surveillance after the illegal miners took control of a dormant shaft.
“During the operation, a shoot-out between the police and the illegal miners ensued, resulting in six illegal miners being fatally wounded and eight injured,” the statement read.
The operation also resulted in the seizure of illegal mining paraphernalia, gold bearing material, two mini buses, 11 firearms, some 4000 cartridges of ammunition and bags of food.
“The Provincial Head for the [Hawks], Major General Patrick Mbotho and the Director for Public Prosecutions in North West, Dr Rachel Makhari-Sekhaolelo lauded the exceptional work by the multi-disciplinary team that worked tirelessly on this case.
“They further lauded Advocate Chris Kok from the [NPA] for the excellent work and dedication,” the statement read.