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Saturday, September 19, 2020
16.1 C

    Police raid illegal mine

    The extend of the mining operations is not visible from the road, but an extensive digging operation have been uncovered.

    Zama Zama (illegal mining) operations are now openly being conducted at various locations around Evander.
    The police raided several areas on Friday and confiscated a lot of equipment. A few arrests were also made.
    The Bulletin was present when the illegal mining operations at the old Evander dumping site were investigated. The extend of the mining operations is not visible from the road, but an extensive digging operation have been uncovered.
    It is extremely dangerous to walk in the area as it is inundated with holes in the ground. These holes and excavations vary from large diggings to holes of about 1,5m x 1m. It is estimated that some of the holes reach depths of more than 20 meters. The police can certainly not execute a raid at night as it is too dangerous.
    The miners even uses hosepipes as ropes to decent into these holes or pits. Side shafts are sometimes dug without proper support of the earth above. The tunnel roof can cave in at any given moment.
    Soil is placed in bags and brought to the surface. It is then washed and separated on site, rolled into cloth as fine gold particles and transported to eMbahlenhle where the gold is extracted with a mercury process which is also very poisonous.
    It is quite evident that the illegal operations have intensified over the past few years with Zama Zamas even digging in broad daylight and in clear view of the public.
    A police helicopter could be heard for days and police visibility was high during a operation to catch illegal miners, or the Zama Zama’s as they are commonly known.
    In July this year, police arrested 197 illegal miners around Evander, eMbalenhle and Osizweni informal settlements. These Lesotho nationals were between the ages of 16 and 68. Two unlicensed firearms, aluminum and brass pipes, picks and shovels were confiscated during this operation. The 150 pipes were suspected of having been stolen from surrounding mines and suspects were detained at Evander, Secunda and eMbalenhle police stations. They appeared at the Evander Magistrate’s Court.
    46 Suspects appeared in the Evander Magistrate’s court in October last year
    In 2015 five illegal miners were rescued a month after they entered the Evander Gold Mine after allegedly renting access cards from mine employees.
    In 2014, police arrested 109 Zama Zama’s, consisting of Zimbabwean, Lesotho and Mozambique citizens. The Lesotho nationals were fined R1200 each or two months imprisonment.
    In July 2014 a shooting incident at Winkelhaak Mine in Evander left 18-year-old Sanele Mokane dead and five others hospitalized after a fight broke out while they were mining. Illegal miners (total 117) were arrested and all victims were believed to be from Lesotho.
    “The police are doing everything in their power to deal with the Zama Zama’s in the area,” Captain Betina Zondo, Secunda police spokesperson said.

    Police raid illegal mine