Illegal mining in Barberton has been a thorn in the side of law enforcement agencies over the years.
Smelting houses and the accompanying equipment to convert the gold into ore spring up randomly and the police rely on tip-offs to stop illegal miners from continuing with their illicit activities.
Colonel Johan Engelbrecht, the station commander at Barberton Police Station, confirmed on Monday that the police had seized a substantial number of smelting equipment in the area.
“We received information that there were three smelting houses operating in the area, and conducted an intelligence-driven operation, hoping to catch the suspects.
“The operation started on Friday at about 1pm and we targeted the three houses. Unfortunately, no arrests were made as the suspects fled into the bush on our arrival,” said Engelbrecht.
He said the raid was a joint operation between the SAPS and SANDF, adding that the seizure of the illegal mining equipment may well serve to disrupt the illegal miners’ operations in the area.
Engelbrecht said operations of this nature were ongoing, depending on the information provided by the community.
“We act on the information as soon as possible and our investigations into illegal mining are conducted on a regular basis,” he said.
This article first appeared on Lowvelder and was republished with permission.