Tools used in illegal mining, found in Khuma near Klerksdorp, where five people were arrested for illegal mining. Picture: SAPS
Tools used in illegal mining, found in Khuma near Klerksdorp, where five people were arrested for illegal mining. Picture: SAPS

North West court postpones alleged illegal miners’ case to January

By Molaole Montsho Time of article published Dec 7, 2021

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A GROUP of 87 alleged illegal miners appeared briefly in the Orkney Magistrate’s Court near Klerksdorp in North West yesterday, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said.

NPA spokesperson in North West, Henry Mamothame, said the case against the group was postponed to January 19 for investigation and a regional court decision.

“Owing to the serious nature of this case, the State has applied for it to be transferred to the regional court for trial.

“The status verification of these miners was completed and it was established in their previous court appearance that all 87 had no legal documents to be in the country. Their attorney also indicated they will not be applying for bail based on their illegal status in the country,” he said.

The men, all from Lesotho, are facing charges of attempted murder, illegal possession of prohibited firearms and ammunition, illegal possession of gold, theft and conspiracy to commit an offence.

They were arrested in an intelligence driven operation on October 20 at Shaft 2 in Orkney.

During the arrest six illegal miners better known as zama zamas were gunned down and eight others injured, following a gun battle with members of the Special Task Force assisted by Hawks Organised Crime in North West.

From the eight who were injured during the shootout only two were still under police guard receiving medical attention. The court proceeded again in their absence.

Two minibus taxis, illegal mining paraphernalia, gold bearing material, eleven Illegal firearms and bags of food were seized during the arrest.

In an unrelated incident, in June bodies of 20 suspected zama zamas were found wrapped in plastic in various locations in Orkney. The bodies suffered severe body burns.

The police found piece of papers on some of the bodies, with names and phone numbers which were believed would help them track relatives and identify the deceased.

In a separate case, Mamothame said three men accused of killing a Catholic priest in Bodibe near Lichtenburg would be sentenced next year.

He said the State and the defence have concluded their case and the matter was postponed to January 13 for judgement.

Thabang Maseko, 24, Mongezi Molefe, 27, and Nicholus Tlhapi, 26, are accused of killing Catholic priest Jacobus Hollanders, 83, on January 13 2020.

The State alleges the three went into Hollanders' house and attacked him with the aim of robbing him.

“The accused overpowered Hollanders and tied up his hands and legs. They assaulted and strangled him to death,” he said.

The state further charged that they robbed Hollanders of his valuables and took them to a house where they were ultimately recovered by the police.

“The first state witness testified that Maseko approached him and five others to plan a robbery at the church as he saw the priest with a lot of cash. He further testified that Maseko was often seen with Hollanders and was more familiar with his living surroundings as he often assisted him with some chores in the church premises.”

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