Four men have been denied bail in the Carletonville Magistrates’ Court for their alleged involvement in illegal mining.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson, Lumka Mahanjana, said the four men – Bethuel Ngobeni, Nhlahla Magwaca and the Sechele brothers, Thabo and Moseki – are part of six men are alleged to be kingpins in illegal mining activities in South Africa.
At least two others, Dumisani Moyo and Kudzai Mashaya, also remain behind bars on similar charges.
“The six are facing seven counts of unlawful dealing in precious metals, three counts of fraud and money laundering. Four of the accused, Ngobeni, Magwaca, Moyo and Mashaya, are also facing four counts of being illegal in the country.
“It is alleged the six men ran an operation, where they illegally collect precious metals from disused and abandoned mines, processed and sold them. It is further alleged that with the proceeds they got from selling the unlawful metals, they bought properties using falsified names,” Mahanjana said.
She said in their bail application, Ngobeni and Magwaca claimed to be South African citizens who “both have emotional ties to the country”.
“However, the State witness from the Department of Home Affairs told the court that after investigation, it was found that both Ngobeni and Magwaca had fraudulently acquired South African identity documents. It was further revealed that Ngobeni’s real name is Zingaiyi Dhliwayo and Magwaca’s real name is James Sigaoke,” she said.
Mahanjana added that the court also questioned the methods that the accused earned their income.
“In his judgment, the magistrate said that the defendant did not provide enough facts to prove how the Sechele brothers managed to accumulate so much profit through the said electrical appliance distribution business that Moseki Sechele owns because it appears that the business is dormant.
“He added that it does not make sense why Ngobeni and Magwaca have properties that are registered under their girlfriends’ names… [meaning] that they are trying to hide the proceeds of the crimes committed,” she said.
The accused are expected back in court on March 7 next year.