One person was shot dead while 46 of his accomplices were arrested when a police operation descended on an illegal mining operation in the West Rand on Tuesday.

Hawks spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Philani Nkwalase, said the operation was part of ongoing law enforcement interventions.

The operation consisted of the Hawks Serious Organised Crime Investigation team in the West Rand, the South African Police Service (SAPS) Airwing, K9 unit, Crime Intelligence (CI), Local Criminal Record Centre (LCRC), and the Forensic Science Laboratory.

Also part of the operation was the Gauteng Traffic Saturation Unit, G4S and Fidelity Security Helicopters, Sibanye Stillwater Protection Services and Eskom officials.

Nkwalase said the operation “resulted in a resounding success”.

The search and seizure operation which was attended by the Minister of Police, General Bheki Cele, MP, accompanied by Gauteng Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Elias Mawela, Hawks Gauteng Provincial Head, Major General Ebrahim Kadwa and District Commissioner of West Rand, Major General Kekana, was carried out simultaneously at eight premises in Krugersdorp and Randfontein.

“A total of 46 suspects were arrested and one fatally wounded. The suspects include foreign nationals from neighbouring countries and their status in the country is now a subject of an ongoing investigation.

“Furthermore, 700 tons of gold-bearing material surpassing R2.5 million was found in five of the illegal plants uncovered and 20 cell phones were seized for further investigation,” said Nkwalase.

The suspects are expected to appear in court soon to face charges that include contravention of Precious Metals Act 37 of 2005, Mining Health and Safety Act 29 of 1996, theft, Mineral and Petroleum Recourses Development Act 28 of 2002 and possibly the Immigrations Act 13 of 2002.

Source: South African Government News Agency

News Reporter