SANDF helps nab more illegal miners


South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers working together with their colleagues from the South African Police Service (SAPS) have apprehended over a dozen illegal mining suspects during operations in the Kleinzee area of the Northern Cape.

Under the multi-disciplinary Operation Vala Umgodi, with a focus on illicit mining activities and other related crimes, the SAPS and SANDF on 14 April arrested 15 suspects for illegal mining and trespassing and confiscated equipment believed to be used in the commission of illegal mining.

“The intelligence driven action was executed at the targeted area where the multi-disciplinary team arrested six South Africans, five Lesotho nationals and four Zimbabwean nationals for illegal mining and trespassing,” the SAPS said in a statement.

The Operation Vala Umgodi team confiscated a crusher machine, generators, bags of possible diamond bearing gravel, dagga, liquor, and mining implements found in the possession of the illegal miners.

The Northern Cape Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Koliswa Otola, commended the members for their commitment in the fight against illegal mining and other related crimes.

SANDF and SAPS teams have recorded multiple successes in combatting illegal miners, or zama zamas, around Kleinzee. Last month, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) reported that over 800 illegal miners had been arrested in September last year, and equipment seized during illicit mining operations to the value of R1 million was being auctioned. Dozens of further arrests continued in 2024, and mining equipment, including bags with diamond bearing gravel, generators, drugs, and money, believed to be the proceeds of crime, have been confiscated.

Elsewhere, the SAPS this week reported that multidisciplinary forces with Operation Vala Umgodi arrested five foreign nationals for possession of precious minerals at Letsitele outside Tzaneen in Mopani District. It is reported that team comprising the SAPS Tactical Response Team, National Intervention Unit and Public Order Policing Units on 15 April acted on information received from a source about illegal mining activities in the area.

In a separate incident, two male suspects aged 32 and 46 years were arrested while transporting suspected stolen chrome in a tipper truck and a van at Steelpoort outside Burgersfort in Sekhukhune District on 15 April.

Simultaneous Vala Umgodi operations in the province resulted in the arrest of seventeen suspects on Monday. They were apprehended for a variety of charges ranging from possession of dangerous weapons, contravention of the immigration act and dealing in dagga.

The police confiscated mining equipment that included pendugas, tipper trucks, and motor vehicles that are believed to have been used in the commission of illegal mining.