Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola revealed that from April to August 2023, 329 people were convicted of offences related to illegal mining; eight were acquitted.
The Justice, Crime Prevention and Security cluster hosted a media briefing at the GCIS Ronnie Mamoepa Media Centre on Friday to provide an update on progress made in combating organised crime.
Lamola said during the same period, there were 7 351 cases in which accused were convicted of contraventions of the Immigration Act. In 178 cases the accused were acquitted.
As at November 7, 4 068 cases containing contraventions of the Immigrations Act were pending in court.
Lamola said in addition, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) and Asset Forfeiture Unit seized 52 vehicles, from January to October, and issued 14 freezing orders to the value of R17 million and two forfeiture orders to the value of R1.9m.
“Seizure of criminal's assets and money is not only a deterrent but drives the clear message that crime does not pay,” he said.
Lamola said traditional organised crime – such as dealing in illicit firearms and environmental crime – had been surpassed by illicit mining, theft of fuel from underground pipelines and damage to essential infrastructure (particularly copper theft). He said extortion at construction sites, kidnapping for ransom, organised robbery and drug trafficking were also on the increase.
He said in the first half of this year, 79.9% of 533 cases involving damage to essential infrastructure resulted in convictions.