Residents of Riverlea, west of Johannesburg, say their safety has improved since the Specialised Forces of the South African Police Service (SAPS) were deployed to the area to shut down illegal mining operations.
The residents welcomed the intensified police operations on illegal miners during a recently held community engagement, led by the Police Ministry.
The additional police deployment in the Riverlea area has so far resulted in the arrest of over 190 suspects, the majority of them being undocumented persons.
Police have since recovered scores of illegal firearms, ammunition, stolen property, explosives, gas cylinders and other tools commonly used during illegal mining activities.
Police Minister General Bheki Cele said these policing operations are but one part of the plan to end illegal mining.
“Arresting illegal miners is not the solution to end this well funded and well organised crime. Police are on the ground to stabilise the area so that other departments can come in and work to permanently close off mines and also attend to some of the social issues that exist in this area, which are drivers of crime.
“It is encouraging that the Hawks have arrested the suspects, who police believe are the handlers of these zama zamas and are middle and top players in the web of illegal mining,” Cele said.
He assured the residents of Gauteng affected by illegal mining and crime associated with the organised crime that a lasting solution is on the horizon.
Source: South African Government News Agency