Orders granted to seize assets from illegal mining kingpins

Monday, March 25, 2024

The National Prosecuting Authority’s Asset Forfeiture Unit (NPA AFU) has obtained three orders granting the unit permission to seize assets worth some R18 million from alleged illegal mining kingpins.

The order was granted in the Pretoria High Court to seize 16 bank accounts, 51 vehicles and seven properties from several suspects which NPA spokesperson Lumka Mahanjana said are “the proceeds of unlawful activities of a syndicate dealing in unwrought gold in Khutsong area” in Carletonville.

“This emanates from a criminal investigation by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation [the Hawks] registered project Gillette in 2018 with the specific purpose of infiltrating a syndicate which dealt in unwrought gold where they illegally buy gold-bearing materials from legal mining workers and illegally from Zama-Zamas [illegal miners].

“They then process it into gold nuggets and sell it around the Johannesburg area, but the main buyers are unknown at this moment. The syndicate is mainly composed of foreign nationals from Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Some members of the syndicate acquired South African Identity documents fraudulently,” she said.

The properties are expected to be sold at public auction with the proceeds going into the Criminal Asset Recovery Account (CARA).

“The trial against the nine accused who are facing various charges including money laundering and racketeering is set to start on 24 July 2024 at the Pretoria High Court after it was transferred from [the] Oberholzer Magistrates Court.

“These forfeiture orders are part of the implementation of the Asset Forfeiture Unit’s asset recovery strategy to claim the proceeds of criminal activities back to the state. The overall National Anti-Corruption strategy by law enforcement agencies is to strengthen the fight against corruption by pursuing both civil and criminal processes to ensure that impunity is no longer a given,” Mahanjana said. – SAnews.gov.za