A man was arrested in Hlathi outside Ladysmith, in KwaZulu-Natal, where about 2,000 community members were gathered in search for diamonds at the weekend.
According to Colonel Thembeka Mbele, the Ekuvukeni visible policing officers were monitoring the area when they received information about a vehicle theft.
The police confronted the driver, who was trying to make a U-turn.
A chase ensued and the driver of the bakkie abandoned the vehicle and tried to flee on foot but he was caught and arrested.
The vehicle was searched and a pistol with no serial number, a rifle and 16 .303 rounds of ammunition and 47 rounds of shotgun ammunition were recovered.
“There were two suspects inside the vehicle but the other one managed to run away. The motor vehicle was taken to Ladysmith pound and the suspect was taken to Ekuvukeni police station for further processing,” Mbele said.
He appeared in the Escourt Magistrate’s Court on Monday of charges of possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition and of a stolen motor vehicle.
Meanwhile, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy has dispatched a task team of geological and mining experts to the area to conduct a proper inspection of the site.
The team is expected to be on site from Tuesday to collect samples for analysis, after which a formal technical report will be issued in due course.
“The department is working with relevant authorities and stakeholders, including the traditional communities, traditional leadership and the local and district municipalities to bring calm to the area and to ensure that the relevant information is communicated to affected communities in order to address the matter as speedily as possible,” it said in a statement.
“The department joins the Office of the Premier of Kwa-Zulu Natal in calling for calm and patience while the task team conducts its preliminary investigations. The DMRE also requests all those involved to stop their operations and leave the site to allow the DMRE to conduct a proper inspection without any hindrance.”