llegal FS miners handed long sentences


Twenty two illegal miners in the Free State have been sentenced to 20 to 25 years imprisonment in the Virginia Circuit Court on Tuesday.

The men and one woman were convicted on 577 charges including racketeering, money laundering, the contravention of the Precious Metals Act and the Criminal Procedure Act. They were also charged with trespassing and violating the Immigration Act as well as the theft of gold-bearing material worth more than R120 million.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson, Phaladi Shuping, says Lovemore Mlambo (35), the man believed to be the syndicate leader, will serve an effective 25 years in prison. “As the NPA we are very pleased with the sentence. We have always struggled to deal with the issue of illegal miners, but in this case, we managed even though it took us two to three years. We have finally come to the end of the case with heavy sentences for each of the accused, which is something that we welcome as the NPA.”

Shuping says the accused had stolen large amounts of unwrought gold or gold-bearing material from Masimong Mine, which they then sold to unknown buyers.

He says Ronnie Hlongwane (37), Thomas Maguvu (32), Tsepo Mashaba (30), Ernest Mahlako (40) and Patrick Sibizwa (27) were effectively sentenced to 22 years imprisonment each after they were found to have previous convictions of trespassing. He says the court said the suspects were found to be continuing with criminal activities.

Shuping says the other accused were sentenced to 20 years imprisonment effectively. They include Solomon Mahoma (33), John Mutumane (22), Godfrey Madiba (43), Nkosokolo Makaula (40), Lazarus Chitebe (20), Manginke Msimango (21), Jabu Mlambo (21), Wanda Nqwilisi (26), Melikhaya Pere (35), Ngarigai Mthisi (27), Samson Muyambo (26), Johang Qwensi (25), Isaac Moekeni (33), Tshokoliso Lephailo (36) and Bongeka Makaula (37).

Shuping says 12 illegal miners were also found to be illegal migrants.

Katleho Morapela- Courant News