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Monday, 13 November 2023 19:05

There are gains in the battle against illegal mining |Ramaphosa.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has highlighted how devastating illegal mining is to the communities but the fight is yielding positive results. 

Writing in his weekly newsletter on Monday, Ramaphosa said the Saps, the State Security Agency, the recently-established Border Management Authority, the departments of Mineral Resources and Energy, Home Affairs, Justice and Constitutional Development, Environmental Affairs, and others are all involved in this multi-sectoral effort, which is supported by the deployment of the SANDF.

Ramaphosa lauds the efforts of the task teams in having made more than 4 000 arrests of illegal mining suspects, as well as more than 7 000 arrests related to illegal immigration.

Illegal immigration investigations are crucial in curbing illegal mining, since more than half of suspects arrested for illegal mining are foreign nationals from Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The President recently authorised the deployment of 3 300 defence force personnel to support the Saps in its ongoing operations against illegal mining until April next year.

Ramaphosa says that illegal mining is often linked to other crimes such as money laundering, bribery and corruption, illicit financial flows, human and weapons trafficking and other forms of organised crime. Of particular concern to the President is violence against and assaults of women.

He said some of the devastating effects of illegal mining on community safety have been made evident by recent instances.

"These incidents include the gang rapes last year of a group of women allegedly by illegal miners; an underground gas explosion at a disused mine in Welkom in May this year that killed 31 illegal miners; and a gas explosion linked to illegal mining activity at an informal settlement in Boksburg in June this year that claimed dozens of lives," the president said.

Everyone must contribute to the fight against illegal mining if we are to win this battle, Ramaphosa said.

"Mining houses that don't comply with the laws around the closure and rehabilitation of mines have contributed to the proliferation of illegal mining," he said.

According to the government, there are about 6 100 unused, derelict, or abandoned mines, and in certain instances, the mines are ancient and the owners are untraceable, while in other instances, the miners have disregarded their responsibilities to close or renovate these mines.

The president added that government's efforts to combat illegal mining are part of their efforts to combat all forms of economic sabotage, such as cable theft, extortion at building sites, and other harm to vital infrastructure.

He concludes that the work of State authorities is not possible or as successful without the cooperation of communities, particularly whistleblowers and the mining industry.

Meanwhile Ramaphosa will on Wednesday undertake his first State visit to Qatar, at the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar.

The two-day visit comes ahead of the 30-year anniversary of diplomatic relations between both countries, which is May 11.

The Presidency highlighted that during the meeting, Ramaphosa and Al Thani are expected to deliberate on various geopolitical issues that are currently impacting the world.

"Both parties are committed to enhancing their economic ties and focusing on improving economic relations including trade, investment, and tourism," said the Presidency.

In 2022, Qatar became South Africa's fifth-largest trading partner in the Middle East.

The Presidency explained that there is significant potential for further economic cooperation between the two countries, with South Africa exporting $206-million worth of trade to Qatar in 2022.

The Presidency added that 56% of total exports were from the manufacturing sector. South Africa has witnessed a surge in its imports from Qatar between 2017 and 2022, primarily owing to the import of petroleum oils.

South African imports from Qatar amounted to $252-million in 2022.

The President will be joined by a high-level business delegation and is expected to engage the Qatari business community to explore opportunities for cooperation in creative industries, energy, mining, agro-processing, retail, healthcare, tourism and shipbuilding.