South African Police Reportedly Create Three Special Units to Combat Illegal Mining
© AFP 2023 SHIRAAZ MOHAMEDArtisanal miners, known as zama zamas, mine for gold at a mining operation in Stormhill west of Johannesburg on August 11, 2023
© AFP 2023 SHIRAAZ MOHAMED
On Saturday, the South African Parliamentary Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy reportedly conducted an oversight inspection of open mine shafts in Riverlea, an area of South Africa's Gauteng province affected by illicit mining. The committee noted that the problem of unlawful mining has become a national security issue, local media said.
The South African Police Services' Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), also known as the Hawks, established three special task forces to track down local and international criminals involved in illegal mining in the country, local media reported.
The head of organizational development of the South African Police Service (SAPS) in Gauteng province, David Bender, revealed the five-level criminal value chain of unauthorized mining.
According to him, those who mine and are engaged in the work with the materials, belong to the first and the second levels. At the third, fourth and fifth levels, transactions are concluded at the regional, national and international level respectively.
In order to combat crime on these three upper levels, three special units - Project Gravity, Project Greed and Project Grumpyface - were created by the DPCI, Bender noted.
Earlier on Saturday, SAPS in Gauteng presented to Parliament the steps to fight the unlawful activity in the region, according to the media.
In early August, the Riverlea region of the province was gripped with protests triggered by instability and deaths among locals amid the conflict between opposing illegal miners' gangs (known in South Africa as zama zama), the outlet said. At least five citizens reportedly died as a result of the turf war in the region.
Following the unrest, a special police task team detained almost 200 people involved in the illicit mining, the media revealed. Most of them had arrived in the country illegally from South Africa's neighboring countries, including Lesotho, Zimbabwe and others.
On August 5, South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa discussed the problem of unauthorized mining in the province with representatives from many ministerial departments.