The South African Police Service (SAPS) has urged members of the public to report illegal mining activities after five undocumented foreign nationals were arrested in Limpopo.
The police arrested the five suspects, aged between 19 and 34 years, on 24 December at Selwane Village (under the Lulekani policing area) for illegal mining.
Members of the Mopani Illegal Mining Task Team arrived at the old mining shaft in Selwane and found a group of people in the act of illegal mining.
“As the police were approaching the suspects, one of them opened fire on the police as he returned underground. Police managed to arrest the four suspects and started searching for the one who went underground. He was eventually arrested but the firearm could not be found,” said SAPS in a statement.
The suspects were found in possession of picks, spades, an iron digging bar, shovels and torches. One bag containing suspected precious minerals was also confiscated.
In addition, members of the Mopani Illegal Mining Task Team have recovered and seized various abandoned mining equipment, groceries, and cooking utensils in the area, which indicated there are other illegal miners in the area.
The Limpopo Commissioner of Police, Lieutenant General Thembi Hadebe, has welcomed the arrest and hailed the team’s endless efforts.
On Sunday, police said the arrested suspects are expected to appear before the Lulekani Magistrate’s Court in due course, facing charges of illegal mining, attempted murder and contravention of the Immigration Act.
Members of the community can report illegal mining activities to Crime Stop on 08600 10111, their nearest police station or use the My SAPS App.