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One ‘Zamazama’ dead, 46 arrested in South Africa’s Witwatersrand Basin

The search and seizure operation was attended by the Police Minister General Bheki Cele. Credit: South African Police Services.

About 700 tonnes of gold-bearing material valued at about $148,500 (ZAR2.5 million) has been recovered in a multidisciplinary enforcement action on eight premises on Monday in South Africa’s West Rand, part of the historic Witwatersrand Basin.

The South African Police Services’ elite crime-fighting Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation said Monday that one illegal miner, known as a ‘Zamazama’, was fatally shot and 46 accomplices were arrested at five illegal processing plants.

Police also recovered about 20 cell phones for further investigation.

The suspects are expected to appear in court soon to face the charges that include contravention of Precious Metals Act 37 of 2005, Mining Health and Safety Act 29 of 1996, theft, Mineral and Petroleum Recourses Development Act 28 of 2002 and possibly Immigrations Act 13 of 2002.

Illegal mining poses a major risk to safe operations, with attacks on employees, security and rival illegal miners. Further, illicit miners damage and steal property, which adds to the country’s general risk profile.