Three alleged illegal miners arrested with gold-processing equipment worth R5m were expected to appear in the Westonaria Magistrate’s Court in Gauteng on Thursday for illegally processing gold

The men, aged 21 to 47, were arrested on Wednesday on premises in Zuurbekom, west of Johannesburg.

Hawks spokesperson Captain Ndivhuwo Mulamu said the suspects were arrested during an integrated operation comprised of the Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation unit, the West Rand Tactical Response Team and Eskom.

“Information was received of an illegal gold-processing plant, which the team observed for some time. On Wednesday, the team decided to interrupt the ongoing illegal operation and discovered five well-developed manufacturing operations on the plot.

“It was also established that the suspects were allegedly stealing electricity from Eskom to sustain their operations,” Mulamu said.

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Two alleged zama zamas (illegal miners) were found processing gold and were apprehended.

Mulamu said the property owner was also arrested for harbouring people who were operating criminal activities on the premises.

“The team seized 10 big phendukas (gold-refining machines), 30 tons of gold-bearing material, four gas cylinders and mercury, all worth about R5m. The Hawks’ Priority Crime Specialised Investigation team have been roped in to initiate a financial and assets investigation,” Mulamu said.

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