Free State- The National Head of the Directorate For Priority Crime Investigation (HAWKS) Lieutenant General Mthandazo Ntlemeza has hailed the conviction of 22 illegal by the Virginia High Court on Monday, hailing the decision as a landmark moment in the fight against illegal mining in the country.

The court will on Tuesday, commence with mitigating and aggravating arguments for sentencing.

The 22 miners (the list is hereunder) were arrested in April 2014 for illegal mining operation that started in August 2012 at Masimong Mine in Welkom. These illegal miners were arrested during an operation conducted by a security company and the Hawks while they illegally occupied a closed mine. Initially, all suspects were facing 843 charges, however they were cleared on 266 charges and were found guilty on 577 charges.

Among those multiple charges on which they were found guilty, includes racketeering, money laundering, Contravention of the Precious Metals Act and the Criminal Procedure Act. They were also charged for trespassing and Immigration Act as well as theft worth a grand total of over R120 million.

Lieutenant General Ntlemeza welcomed the conviction passed on the miners and praised the members and everyone involved.
“This is indeed a welcomed precedent set by our courts and this will help our efforts to combat illegal mining a great deal. We are proud of our team’s efforts in ensuring a successful prosecution in this matter. From now on, illegal mining and those who continue to perpetuate this dangerous and criminal activity will feel the full might of the law,” said Lieutenant General Ntlemeza.

The list of convicted suspects is as follows:

Lovemore Chaba Mlambo (35), Simon Mashava Cremora (38), Ronnie Hlongwane Aaron Chauke (37), Godfrey Nduna Madiba (43), Nkosokolo Makaula (40), Lazarus Chitebe (20), Manginke Msimango (21), Jabu Mlambo (21), John Mutumane (22), Thomas Mauvu (32), Wanda Nqwilisi (26), Melikhaya Pere (35), Ngarigai Mthisi (27), Samson Muyambo (26), Johang Qwenzi (25), Isaac Moyekeni Motusi (33), Tsepo Mashaba (30), Ernest Raas Mahlako (40), Tsokoliso Lephailo (36), Matias Patric Sibizwa (27), Bongeka Makaula (37).