Mpumalanga — Twelve suspects including two minors were arrested last night in an intelligence driven disruptive operation conducted by members of the Hawks Serious Organized Crime Investigation Nelspruit and Middelburg assisted by National Intervention Unit, Bomb disposal, Tactical Response Team, Local Criminal Record Center, SAPS Barberton and SSG Security Services at Brown's farm in Barberton.
Information received led to the discovery of the illegal laboratory operating on the farm whereby a group of illegal miners are employed to illegally process the gold.
On arrival at the identified address, the sound of hammers could be heard coming from the nearby bushes. The team swooped on the group wherein ten suspects, five illegal immigrants and five Mpumalanga residents were arrested. Amongst the suspects two are minors aged 15 and 16 were also arrested.
Further information revealed the group was employed by two different bosses, one in Johannesburg and the other was in Mpumalanga. The team followed the information on the Mpumalanga boss which led to a nearby house where the suspect was hiding. When penetrating the house, they found a man on crutches who indicated that he was injured in an illegal mining accident. Upon the search of the premises, crushed gold bearing materials were found, confiscated and the suspect was arrested for possession of the gold bearing materials. He was also charged for contravening section 43 of Basic Conditions of Employment Act of 2017. His vehicle, a silver ford ranger double cab which is suspected to be used in the commission of crime was also confiscated for further investigation.
During the search in another house, an unlicensed .22 hunting rifle, a telescope and live ammunition were found and confiscated. A 20 year old male was arrested for illegal possession of the firearm and ammunition.
The following exhibits were also found and confiscated, pendukas, hammers, generators, cellphones, gold bearing material, chemicals and gas cylinders containing mercury.
The suspects will appear before the Barberton Magistrate Court on Monday 28 December 2020.