JOHANNESBURG – The Virginia High Court on Tuesday, imposed lengthy jail sentences to 22 convicted illegal miners, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) said.
“Lovemore Chaba Mlambo, 35, the man behind all illegal operations in Masimong mine, will serve 25 years imprisonment as the charges are said to run concurrently. Simon Mashava Cremora, 38, will serve 23 years imprisonment as the charges are said to run concurrently,” spokesperson Captain Philani Nkwalase said.
“Ronnie Hlongwane Aaron Chauke, 37, Thomas Mauvu, 32, Tsepo Mashaba, 30, Ernest Raas Mahlako, 40, and Matias Patric Sibizwa, 27, will serve 22 years imprisonment as the charges are said to run concurrently.”
Nkwalase said that Godfrey Nduna Madiba, 43, Nkosokolo Makaula, 40, Lazarus Chitebe, 20, Manginke Msimango, 21, Jabu Mlambo, 21, John Mutumane, 22, Wanda Nqwilisi, 26, Melikhaya Pere, 35, Ngarigai Mthisi, 27, Samson Muyambo, 26, Johang Qwenzi, 25, Isaac Moyekeni Motusi, 33, Tsokoliso Lephailo, 36, and Bongeka Makaula, 37, will each serve 20 years imprisonment.
Nkwalase said that the 22 miners were arrested in April 2014, for illegal mining operations that started in August 2012 at the Masimong Mine in Welkom.
“They were arrested during an operation conducted by a security company and the Hawks while the criminals illegally occupied a closed mine. Initially, all convicts were facing 843 charges. However, they were cleared on 266 charges and were found guilty on 577 charges on Monday, 20 February 2017,” Nkwalase said.
“Among those multiple charges on which they were found guilty, includes racketeering, money laundering, Contravention of the Precious Metals Act and the Criminal Procedure Act. They were also charged for trespassing and Immigration Act as well as theft worth a grand total of over R120-million.”
Hawks head Lieutenant General Mthandazo Ntlemeza hailed the sentence as a landmark moment in fighting illegal mining.
“We hope that this precedent set by our courts will not only serve as a deterrent, but will also help us in our efforts to combat illegal mining even in other upcoming cases,” Ntlemeza said.