The suspects are aged between 24 and 63.

In a successful bust, Mpumalanga Police have arrested nine suspects for illegal mining – and confiscated a bulk of mining equipment.

The arrest stemming from Operation Vala Umgodi was made on Friday at a farm in Schoemanskloof, outside Nelspruit.

Following reports of illegal mining activities on the farm’s mountain, the police launched an operation which led to the successful arrest.

“On the team’s arrival at the farm, a group of alleged illegal miners, upon noticing police presence, fled the scene into the dense bushes in an attempt to evade arrest,” Mpumalanga police said in a statement.

“However, the dedicated team managed to corner nine suspects aged between 24 and 63.”

The team comprised of various disciplines within the South African Police Service (Saps), as well as officials from the department of Home Affairs.

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Illegal immigrants

During the operation, the police found that seven of the suspects were illegal immigrants without valid documentation. As a result, the foreign nationals were arrested for contravention of the Immigration Act.

Meanwhile, the remaining two suspects were arrested for possession of gold bearing materials and suspected illegal mining equipment, respectively.

The police team proceeded to thoroughly search through the dense bushes to uncover hidden mining equipment.

“It was during this period when 30 generators as well as eight jack hammers, three phendukas [gold refining machine], two electric motors, two gas cylinders, 13 shovels, 11 spades, 16 pick axes, 45 chisels and 19 hammers were confiscated.”

The Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela has welcomed the arrest, and applauded the police for their commitment in the fight against illegal mining.

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