Our Burning Planet

ILLEGAL MINING BUST

Mpumalanga police seize mining equipment worth R60m during crackdown on illegal coal mine

Mpumalanga police seize mining equipment worth R60m during crackdown on illegal coal mine
Excavators, bull dozers and dump trucks are among those seized by police during an intelligence driven take down operation on Tuesday, 19 September 2023. (Photo: Supplied SAPS)

SAPS’s illicit mining task force seized R60 million worth of equipment at an illegal coal mine in Carolina, Mpumalanga, intensifying the crackdown on illicit mining hotspots across South Africa.

On Tuesday, the South African Police Services’s (SAPS) anti-illegal mining task force seized R60-million worth of equipment at an illegal coal mine in Carolina, Mpumalanga, intensifying a crackdown on illicit mining hotspots across South Africa. 

In addition to R12-million worth of illegal coal, police seized a cache of heavy machinery, including excavators, bulldozers, and dump trucks, as part of an intelligence-led operation, and a a 53-year-old mine manager who could not produce a mining permit was arrested. The owner of the mine, however, has not been apprehended and a manhunt is currently underway. 

Brigadier Athlenda Mathe said in a statement that “through collaboration with the relevant authorities, it was found that the mine was not licensed and is operating illegally”.

Illegal mining equipment

Excavators, bulldozers and dump trucks are among those seized by police during an intelligence driven take down operation on Tuesday, 19 September 2023.
(Photo: Supplied SAPS)

Read more in Daily Maverick: Life and death in the shadow of Mpumalanga’s toxic coal mines

The statement continued that in the past 12 months, 748 coal yards across the country were “visited to ensure compliance” while a total of 63 unregulated coal yards were shut down because they were not authorised by law to operate by the Department of Minerals Resources and Energy (DMRE) and the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE).

Illegal coal mining

R12-million worth of coal found to be mined illegally has also been seized. (Photo: Supplied SAPS)

Since 8 May of this year, 335 illegal miners have been arrested at various hotspots across the country.  

The acting National Commissioner of the SAPS, Lieutenant General Tebello Mosikili, said in a statement “Many thanks to the SANDF, DFFE, DMRE and Water Affairs Department who also had a role to play in the success of this takedown. Since the establishment of the NatJoints energy safety and security priority committee we have intensified efforts to prevent and combat incidents of illegal mining activities, we are also working closely with all stakeholders to close and rehabilitate abandoned mine shafts to put a stop to these illegal mining activities”. 

In a recent meeting in Parliament with the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), SAPS and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI/Hawks), members of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) were briefed on intelligence reports commissioned by Eskom’s former Group Chief Executive (GCEO), Andre de Ruyter.

Daily Maverick has previously reported that among the findings at least four criminal cartels are allegedly operating in Eskom as well as in the illegal coal mining industry. The impacts of this alleged activity can be seen in anecdotal evidence of substandard and illegal coal from illegal coal yards being delivered to Eskom’s power stations. This negatively impacts the machinery, leading to breakdowns of the sort that can cause or exacerbate load shedding. 

The Hawks, in their presentation noted, in reference to the intelligence reports, that “Although the allegations towards entities, groupings or individuals are not proved yet, the gathered intelligence needs to be corroborated, as the potential exists to investigate the matter further.” DM

Gallery
Absa OBP

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Trevor Pope says:

    The DMRE is sleeping on the job again. A working cadastre system would help too. A GIS intern could identify these sites using imagery, cross reference the permits and flag the non-compliant ones. This could happen within days of a new site being established, before too much damage has been done. Of course, there needs to be political will to do this…

    • Nick Griffon says:

      Gwede is involved.

    • Caroline de Braganza says:

      I can’t help wondering why Gwede didn’t purchase the off-the-shelf cadastre software which has proved effective in other countries in Southern Africa? Why re-invent the wheel? Why go out to tender when the wheels are already available? Asked and answered methinks!

  • Nonnie Oelofse says:

    Suddenly these ILLEGAL MINES WITH MILLIONS OF RANDS OF EQUIPMENT ARE DISCOVERED JUST BEFORE THE 2024 ELECTIONS???? REALLY, HOW STUPID DO THE GOVERMENT THINK, THE INTELLIGENT PUBLIC ARE???

  • Denise Smit says:

    Methinks this is the fruits of Andre de Ruiter and George Fivas intelligence reports which the ANC/EFF/Hlengwa from the IFP so much protestests against. But of course lots of water has run into the sea and it will be in such a way the the ANC/EFF politicians involved stay protected. Denise Smit

  • Iam Fedup says:

    About bloody time,although based on past history, especially of the not-so-esteemed Brigadier Mathe, I’m not optimistic that much else will be done. What they and DMRE have exposed is not the tip of the iceberg, but the tip of the tip of the iceberg. Could it be that this raid and seizure was simply gangsters getting revenge on each other? When 10000 of these criminals are finally sitting in jail, maybe that’s when they will have some credibility.

  • Iam Fedup says:

    About bloody time,although based on past history, especially of the not-so-esteemed Brigadier Mathe, I’m not optimistic that much else will be done. What they and DMRE have exposed is not the tip of the iceberg, but the tip of the tip of the iceberg. Could it be that this raid and seizure was simply gangsters getting revenge on each other? When 10000 of these criminals are finally sitting in jail, maybe that’s when they will have some credibility.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options