NORTH WEST – A multi-disciplinary team consisting of members of the Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation assisted my members of the Special Task Force, National Intervention Unit, Air Wing, South African Air Force, Bidvest Protea Coin, Hawks’ Tactical Operations Management Section (TOMS), Hawks’ Priority Crime Specialised Investigation (PCSI), Klerksdorp Illegal Mining Task Team and Forensic Science Laboratory descended on an unsuspecting illegal mining syndicate in several helicopters at Batlhako mine in Rustenburg on Thursday afternoon.
The highly elaborate operation stems from months of intelligence gathered on the illegal mining activities of Chrome that had allegedly been hampering official mining operations for some time. It is alleged that the illegal mining activities are conducted by a syndicate comprising of different role players who all benefit from the organised crime network.
During the operation two primary syndicate members were arrested whilst three suspects were wounded after they allegedly tried to evade arrest by driving off the crime scene thus allegedly activating a high speed chase and a resultant shootout.
Approximately 3000 tons of chrome worth approximately R2.5 million was seized. Other seizures include four Interlink trucks, one tipper truck, three excavators, two diesel tanks, two vehicles and a 9mm pistol with an obliterated serial number.
Two suspects will make their first appearance today before the Mogwase Magistrate’s Court facing charges of Illegal mining, whilst the case against the three wounded suspects has been handed over to the Detective Services.
The Provincial Head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation – Major General Patrick Mbotho hailed the collaborative nature of the operation and thanked all role players involved. He further issued a stern warning to illegal mining syndicates about their criminal activities “Mining is the highest contribution to the North West economy, this makes it very important and absolutely worth protecting.”