Environmental management inspectors, also known as the Green Scorpions, from the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and various provincial environmental affairs departments would embark on a sand-mining industry blitz across the country, with the goal of dealing with the environmental and water aspects of unlawful sand-mining operations.
This latest blitz, for which the dates would remain undisclosed to ensure greater impact, would be conducted in collaboration with the Department of Mineral Resources and the Department of Water and Sanitation as their respective mandates were also triggered by the unlawful activities, the DEA said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The damage caused by these [unlawful sand-mining] operators has been identified as one of the key drivers of biodiversity loss,” the DEA noted, stating that many of these operators abandoned their sites when the resource was depleted without implementing any form of rehabilitation.
The department pointed out that the national project focusing on illegal sand-mining activities first started as a pilot in 2010 in Limpopo and had, subsequently, over the last three years, been conducted in the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Gauteng.
In particular, Green Scorpions from the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning and the DEA engaged in enforcement activities earlier this month, which resulted in the confiscation of heavy-duty machinery used in the removal of sand.
“The investigation is currently at an advanced stage and will be enrolled for prosecution soon,” the DEA said.