CentralSAThree years of mining investigations paid off
─── CORN KOTELI 13:51 Wed, 08 Dec 2021
An investigation that began in July 2018 has exposed a number of companies allegedly used as a front.
According to the Hawks spokesperson in the Free State, Christopher Singo, they have arrested seven suspects for suspected illegal mining, money laundering, theft, and corruption.
During the course of the investigation, the alleged targets were identified as the syndicate members who are involved in illicit mining activities, money laundering, and corruption. It is alleged that the syndicate members are owners of various businesses that are operating legally and generate some income. However, those companies are allegedly used to launder large amounts of money through their illegal mining business activities. The suspects are aged between 28 and 55.
Singo explains that these members allegedly use runners to illegally recruit foreign nationals to work as zama-zamas and then obtain the gold-bearing material and sell it to illegal buyers of gold. The Hawks gave attention to the investigation with the aims of disrupting and dismantling the identified threat of illicit mining in Welkom and the Thabong areas.
Several items were seized during the arrest of the seven suspects, which include 23 vehicles with an estimated value of more than R5 million, 2 firearms, 2 gas bottles, 1 cutting torch set with pipes, documents and an undisclosed amount of money.
The arrests were made by the Hawks’ integrated team, with their counterparts in Pretoria in concert with Crime Intelligence (CI), the Tactical Response Team (TRT), Public Order Policing (POP), and the Local Criminal Record Centre (LCRC) - all from the Free State - as well as local security companies, Harmony and Bidvest Protea Coin, both based in Welkom.