SANDF and SAPS reach out to less privileged schoolchildren during anti-illegal mining operation

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Members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and South African Police Service (SAPS) found time during joint operations to combat illegal mining to reach out to less privileged students at the Kleinzee Combined and Development School.

On 5 April, SAPS and SANDF members (from Sector 3 Northern Cape Battalion Headquarters and Alpha Company, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Tuelo Petrus Kgaje) came together to bring smiles to the faces of over 41 school children by donating essential items such as school shoes, toiletries, and sanitary towels to those identified as being in need by the school principal, Ms Clark, with the assistance of her staff members.

“The generosity of the soldiers and police officers was met with gratitude and joy, expressed through songs and ululations from both the teachers and the students,” reported Captain Xolani Gxakuma, Sector 3 Northern Cape Battalion Ops Officer.

He quoted former President Nelson Mandela, who emphasised the importance of making a difference in the lives of children.

Kgaje expressed his gratitude to all those who contributed funds and made the initiative possible. He also thanked the teachers for their dedication to educating and mentoring the next generation. The children were encouraged, despite the challenges they might face from home and the surroundings, to remain focussed and study hard in order to matriculate and proceed with tertiary institution/university.

The community outreach initiative took place during joint operations to combat illegal mining activities in the Namakwaland District Municipality, specifically in the small town of Kleinzee, situated on the outskirts of Port Nolloth.

SANDF and SAPS teams have recorded multiple successes in combatting illegal miners, or zama zamas, around Kleinzee under Operational Vala Umgodi. 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.