ILLEGAL GOLD BEARING PROCESSING LABORATORY DISMANTLED
MPUMALANGA: Intelligence driven disruptive operation was conducted by members of the Hawks Serious organized crime investigation Nelspruit and Middelburg assisted by National Intervention Unit, Bomb disposal, Tactical Response Team, Local Criminal Record Center, SAPS Barberton and SSG Security Services on Wednesday 23 December 2020 at Brown farm in Barberton.
Intelligence Investigation led to the discovery of the illegal laboratory which is operating in the farm whereby the group of illegal miners are employed to illegally process the gold.
On arrival at the identified address the team heard the sound of hammers from the nearby bushes and the team disrupted the group and ten suspects, five illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe and five local guys from Mpumalanga were arrested. Amongst the suspects two are minors aged 15 and 16 and others are between the ages of 18 to 37.
During the interview the suspects confirmed that they are employed by different bosses, one boss responsible for foreigners and the other one for the local guys. The foreigners explained that their boss is originated from Zimbabwe but residing in Johannesburg and he is only coming occasionally to check them.
The other local group confirmed that they are employed by the local boss. The team followed the suspect’s alibi which led to the arrest of mastermind who was at the nearby house in the same premises next to the laboratory.
The team entered the house where the suspect was found on crutches and on questioning about his condition he explained to the team that he was injured in the mine while doing illegal mining.
The team introduced themselves and the purpose of the operation and requested to search the house. Upon the search crushed gold bearing materials were found and confiscated and the suspect was arrested for possession of the gold bearing materials.
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The suspect was also charged for contravening section 43 of basic conditions of employment act of 2017. The suspect’s motor vehicle, a double cab silver ford ranger which is suspected to be used in the commission of crime was also confiscated for further investigation.
During the search in another house, an unlicensed .22 hunting rifle, telescope and live ammunition were found and confiscated. A 20-year-old male was arrested for illegal possession of firearm and ammunition.
The following exhibits were also found and confiscated, pendukas, hammers, Generators, cellphones, Gold-bearing material, chemicals and gas cylinders containing mercury.
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The suspects are detained and they will appear before the Barberton Magistrate Court on Monday 28 December 2020.