Rise in Limpopo illegal mining concerns portfolio committees

12th September 2022 By: Donna Slater - Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer

Limpopo is experiencing a surge in illegal mining activity, particularly in the Sekhukhune, Mopani, Capricorn and Waterberg districts, the portfolio committees on Mineral Resources and Energy, Police and Home Affairs report.

Delegations from the three portfolio committees concluded a two-day joint oversight visit to illegal mining hotspots in Limpopo on September 10 and 11. They met with senior officials from the three departments and communities affected by illegal mining.

The delegations also visited sites where illegal mining is taking place.

Officials from the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) and the South African Police Service (Saps) told the committees that illegal mining is especially increasing at abandoned and disused mines.

The Department of Home Affairs also reported about the high number of undocumented foreign nationals from countries such as Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, who are involved in illegal activity.

The portfolio committees were informed that besides illegally mining precious minerals, such as gold, platinum and chrome, the illegal miners are also reportedly “terrorising” communities and committing various crimes, including rape, murder and the theft of copper cables.

Further, the committees heard reports that investigations into illegal mining syndicates linked some of those involved to politicians in foreign countries, who allegedly fund election campaigns using profits from illegal mining.

Community policing forums in nearby and affected communities also raised a concern about under-resourced police stations in the province, that makes it difficult to fight illegal mining and other crimes.

Meanwhile, some of these issues will be raised with the National Police Commissioner Sehlahle Masemola on September 14, when he appears before the Portfolio Committee on Police.

As a result of their visit, the committees advised Saps and border security officials to refrain from accepting bribes from illegal miners and undocumented foreigners, as this served to only worsen criminal activities and the problem of illegal migration.

Members of the three committees were concerned that abandoned and unused mines provide opportunities for illegal mining. They appealed to mining companies and the DMRE to find solutions to secure and rehabilitate abandoned mines.

The committees also directed the three departments to put in place strict measures in the identified areas.