Home Crime Bheki Cele says police response on Zama Zamas improved

Bheki Cele says police response on Zama Zamas improved

by Thys Khiba
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By Thys Khiba – On Tuesday Police Minister Bheki Cele, while in Stilfontein in the North West confirmed that the response and fight against illegal mining activities by police officials is now improving.

Cele used the arrest of 87 Stilfontein suspected illegal miners as an example to support his statement of police improvement. At least 87 suspects were arrested in October last year, following an intelligence-driven operation – which resulted in a shootout with members of the special task force.

“We think the response of police also is improving. October was a big operation where 87 of these guys were found. More guns were found,” said Cele.

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Bheki Cele says police response on Zama Zamas improved 3

While addressing the media at the crime scene where 24 firearms were seized and 20 suspects arrested at a mining shaft in Stilfontein, Cele called on the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) to help them by shutting down abandoned mine shafts.

“But don’t only shut them down but also monitor them. Because these guys, they’ve got a tendency of coming and opening this,” Cele explains.

DMRE has called on affected residents to keep on reporting any suspicious activities that may lead to the arrest of illegal mining suspects. 

“The [department]…welcomes the arrest of suspects alleged to have been involved in illegal mining operations and seizure of firearms by the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation [the Hawks].”

Out of 20 arrested suspects, 15 are foreign nationals and 5 South African citizens who are protectors and responsible for logistical issues. 

“The 24 recovered firearms will be sent for ballistic testing, some of which were stolen during house robberies,” said Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale.

Before making his way to a crime scene were 20 suspected illegal were arrested on Monday, Cele promised the affected community in that area to come back with answers to some of their concerns. 

Affected community members who live in fear told Cele about their concerns, including cable theft. They have also accusedlocal police officers of working with illegal miners.

“Two weeks won’t be a very long time to come back and meet the community in full force,” Cele said.

Meanwhile, Cele illegal mining activities are organised crime activities and illegal miners are ready to into a battle with anyone who will disturb their operations.

“Because you can see that they ready for the war these guys. They are prepared for the war. Having sealed the boxes of AK-47 ammunition, it tells you that they are not just here to get this cold but they are here to eliminate whoever is on their way,” Cele said.

Illegal mining activities are prevalent mostly at abandoned or disused mines. 

The arrested suspects are expected to appear in the StilfonteinMagistrate’s Court on Wednesday 12 October facing preliminary charges of conspiracy to commit robbery to wit gold, possession of illegal firearms, unlawful possession of ammunition and contravention of the Immigration Act.



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