JOHANNESBURG: Eleven suspects have been arrested and a R5 million worth of mining chrome was recovered during a search and seize operation in Witbank on Thursday, 28 April.
According to the South African Police Service (Saps), the suspects include a female and 8 males who are from Zimbabwe, while two other males are from Mozambique.
“The investigation has so far revealed that the woman, believed to be the kingpin was in possession of a South African Identity Document whereas the rest did not have legal documents to be in the country,” Brigadier Selvy Mohlala wrote in a statement.
Following a team consisting of members from Witbank SAPS, Witbank Crime Intelligence and Transnet officials conducted a sting operation on Thursday afternoon.
During the search and seize operation police officials discovered that there were four facility rooms packed with mining chrome.
“Police then arrested them on the premises whilst they were reportedly busy loading chrome into a truck,” Selvy Mohlala added.
They are also suspected to have alleged stolen and smuggled chrome from trains between Ferro Metals Witbank and Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal, and the chrome was reportedly transported in trucks to Gauteng where it was then sold to certain individuals.
They are facing charges which include the illegal possession of mining chrome.
“The police are working in partnership with the Department of Home Affairs to determine the status of the woman and also to find out how she got hold of the Identity Document,” he continued.
The other ten is charged for contravention of the Immigration Act of South Africa.
Mpumalanga police say they expect to make more arrests.
This comes after eleven suspected illegal miners were arrested, with one suspect fatally wounded, after a shootout in Ekurkhuleni in February.
Police received a complaint of a person that had been shot in an open field in Boksburg.
Upon arrival, they saw a group of suspected illegal miners. More police officers from Boksburg North, Ekurhuleni Trio Task Team, Highway Patrol and Private Security Companies were summoned.
It was alleged that as police units started approaching the suspects and the armed group began firing gunshots at the police, and a shootout ensued, and one suspect was fatally wounded.