Home News ‘Illicit mining kingpin’ linked to 29 murders killed in shoot-out with police

‘Illicit mining kingpin’ linked to 29 murders killed in shoot-out with police

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An alleged illicit mining kingpin, a Lesotho national who has been linked to 29 illegal mining-related murders, was shot and killed by the police during a gun battle in Soweto.

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THE FIGHT against illicit mining activities in the Northern Cape and the country is gaining momentum, with Operation Vala Umgodi registering significant successes.

The national commissioner of the SAPS, General Fannie Masemola, this week commended the multidisciplinary teams for their dedication and progress in curbing these illegal activities.

Launched in December 2023, Operation Vala Umgodi is the government’s strategic response to prevent, combat and eradicate illegal mining activities. The operation currently spans seven hot-spot provinces, including the Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal.

According to national police spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe, the operation’s latest success saw the Gauteng team, led by the National Intervention Unit (NIU), trace a wanted “illicit mining kingpin” to Jabulani in Soweto on the weekend.

The suspect, a Lesotho national, was shot and killed in a gun battle with the police during the operation.

Mathe said the suspect has been linked to at least 29 illegal mining-related murders in Florida and Nomzamo, Soweto. In one such incident, sixteen individuals were killed at a local tavern.

During the tracing operation on the weekend, the suspect was shot and killed by the police after pointing a firearm at the police and resisting arrest at his hideout in Soweto.

Last week, the multidisciplinary team registered other notable successes, arresting 62 suspects in Limpopo and nine suspects in the Northern Cape for their alleged involvement in illegal mining activities.

In April, the team seized R1 million in cash and illicit mining equipment from a house used by illegal miners in Carletonville in Gauteng.

In the same week in the Northern Cape, seven unlicensed firearms were found hidden in a shoebox at an identified address in Postmasburg.

To date, Operation Vala Umgodi teams have arrested more than 4,774 suspects for various crimes, including illicit mining activities. The breakdown of the arrests per province is as follows:

– Free State: 1,092

– Limpopo: 1,230

– Gauteng: 679

– North West: 649

– Northern Cape: 619

– Mpumalanga: 432

– KwaZulu-Natal: 74

The operation has also led to the seizure of 146 firearms, 4,518 rounds of ammunition, 78 vehicles, 79 trucks, 33 TLBs and 7,130 uncut diamonds worth R32 million.

To date, R4 million in cash has been seized by the teams across all nine provinces.

Operation Vala Umgodi also includes SANDF members and officials from the Department of Minerals and Energy and other law enforcement agencies.

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