A central part of this effort are the specialised Illegal
Mining Task Teams set up by the South African Police
Service (SAPS) last year to conduct operations against
illegal mining and its associated activities in hotspots
around the country.
A number of intelligence-driven operations by these task
teams, supported by the Hawks, have culminated in over
4,000 arrests for various offences related to illegal mining.
Between April and August this year there have also been
arrests of more than 7,000 suspects involved in illegal
mining for contravening immigration regulations.
The SANDF deployment supports a multi-sectoral effort
that brings together the SAPS, State Security Agency, the
newly formed Border Management Authority and the
departments of Mineral Resources and Energy, Home
Affairs, Justice and Constitutional Development,
Environmental Affairs and others.
Illegal mining is linked to other crimes such as money laundering, bribery and corruption, illicit financial flows, human and weapons trafficking, and other forms of organised crime.
Our efforts to end illegal mining cannot focus only on the
miners, but also on those people further up the value
chain who benefit. As Minister Gwede Mantashe said last
year, “illegal miners are foot soldiers for criminal
syndicates and must be dealt with like any other
For this fight to be successful, everyone has to play their
part. Mining houses that don’t comply with the laws
around the closure and rehabilitation of mines have
contributed to the proliferation of illegal mining. There
are approximately 6,100 derelict, unused or abandoned
mines in South Africa. In some cases the mines are old
and their owners cannot be traced, but in other cases,
miners have failed to honour their obligations to
rehabilitate or close these mines.
We therefore welcome the efforts of the Minerals Council
of South Africa to support greater collaboration between
government and the mining sector in tackling this
Our actions against illegal mining are part of a broader
effort to tackle all crimes of economic sabotage,
including cable theft, extortion at construction sites and
other damage to critical infrastructure.
Through the work of specialised task teams, the SAPS has
made 61 arrests linked to extortion at economic and
construction sites since April. Over the last four years a
total of 27 people have been convicted and sentenced for
Working together with business, unions and
communities, we will not let up in our fight against the
acts of sabotage that are undermining our country’s
We congratulate our law enforcement agencies and
security services for their successes in dealing with these
crimes. Their intelligence-driven operations would not be
possible without the cooperation of communities,
whistle-blowers and industry.
If we continue to work together, this is a battle that we
can and will win.