Deputy President David Mabuza has acknowledged that illegal mining is a major challenge in South Africa.

“It has grown to the point where it is a major source of concern not only for the government, but also for the mining industry and the communities that are located close to illegal mining operations,” he told Parliamentarians on Thursday.

He was responding to questions for oral reply in the National Assembly. He told Members of Parliament that the police and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy will appoint specialised teams in each province to fight illegal mining.

“We agreed that illegal mining not only has a tremendous effect on the economy and the people,” he said, adding that it also has an effect on the national security.

In July this year, eight women were allegedly attacked and gang raped by illegal miners near a mine dump in Krugersdorp, sending shock waves across the country.

During a briefing in August, the Ministers of Police, Home Affairs, Mineral Resources and Energy said that a Special Task Team was established by the South African Police Service (SAPS) in 2019 to tackle the phenomenon of illegal mining.

The police have reported that they have successfully arrested 4 675 illegal miners to date.

Meanwhile, in the Witwatersrand alone, 135 mining holes have been closed, while the process is underway to seal the remaining 20.

“Furthermore, an existing multi-disciplinary Economic Infrastructure Task Team of various specialised units of the SAPS, in partnership with private security and business partners, is working tirelessly in preventing and combatting economic and critical infrastructure-related crimes, including illicit mining. “

In addition, he said the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster has also developed a strategy that will focus on combating activities in both formal and informal settings.

The strategy, he said, is based on five pillars that include, tighter intelligence gathering, coordination intensification of police visibility mechanisms, tightened mechanisms aimed at disruption of organised and stubborn crime, and enhance prosecutorial guided investigation and crime prevention awareness campaigns.

“Mitigation effort is being implemented, which includes the awareness campaigns and tips on how to prevent crime in addition to requests for assistance in capturing all of these measures are based on working together with members of the Executive Councils in provinces together with the South African Police Services cooperating with communities.”

In addition, the JCPS cluster in collaboration with Government Communication and Information System, will re-establish improved communication methods as well as engagement with communities in the form of community meetings to raise educational awareness regarding the fight against illegal mining.

“We’re confident that the approach outlined will ensure that all of us live in environments that are conducive to free and harmonious economic activity which will ultimately result in a reduction of poverty, unemployment and inequality.”

Meanwhile, he said the process of closing, decommissioning mines is ongoing.

“Investment in mining infrastructure projects that are impactful, resilient, and sustainable stands out as the most effective weapon to fight low economic growth. To ensure the continued health of our economy, it is essential that we take measures to preserve not only our mining infrastructure but also any other type of infrastructure,” he added. –

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