The National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) has finally acted against a group of illegal miners who were arrested over a series of illegal mining activities in Carltonville.
On Friday, the AFU attached and seized cars, homes and money from three foreign nationals and their wives, all of whom are linked to a high profile gold mining syndicate operating in Khutsong and Carletonville.
The accused were arrested in October 2022 following a crackdown on illegal mining in the area with their spouses. They include Bethuel Ngobeni, Lerato Bathebeng, Poppy Mathongwane, Dumisani Moyo, Nhlanhla Leon Magwaca, Neo Susan Duba and Thabo Sechelewho allegedly acquired the cars and property through unlawful activities.
The NPA’s Gauteng spokesperson Lumka Mahanjana also revealed that the accused, who are from Zimbabwe and Mozambique, were found in possession of fake South African ID documents.
“Before this order, the AFU obtained three preservation orders last year. All four orders amount to a total of more than R20m which include 55 vehicles, 10 properties in Khutshong and Carletonville, as well as R91 000 in cash and valuable assets,” she said.
Mahanjana said recently the NPA secured another preservation order of more than R3 million to preserve properties belonging to the accused.
The recently attached assets will be auctioned off following an application for forfeiture orders. Once granted, the properties will be sold at public auction and the proceeds paid into the Criminal Asset Recovery Account (Cara), the NPA said.
Mahanjana said the trial against the nine accused, who are facing various charges including money laundering and racketeering, will resume on July 24 in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, after it was transferred from the Oberholzer Magistrate’s Court.
Mahanjana revealed that the Director of Public Prosecutions, advocate Sibongile Mzinyathi, has commended the investigation team for its work.
“He also welcomes this order as it demonstrates the NPA’s continuous fight against organised crime at the highest level,” she said.
The arrests were part of Operation Gillette, a four-year multi-disciplinary sting operation, which at the time saw Khutsong residents watching in disbelief as law enforcement officers and Home Affairs officials swooped on eight houses believed to be owned by the ringleaders.