Over 30 arrested for illegal mining

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Duane Petrus – The Hawks have arrested over 30 people who are believed to be involved in illicit mining activities in Welkom in the northern Free State this morning.

Hawks spokesperson, Paul Ramoloko, says they expect to have made 63 arrests in total by the end of the day.

He says the investigation has been ongoing for over a year.

Ramoloko added that the operation is being carried out by the Hawks in conjunction with Free State Invisible policing, and the Welkom mining industry.

24 Police officers who were stationed at the Welkom and Thabong police stations were also arrested in September for alleged involvement in illegal mining activities.

"These are actually the middleman who take the minerals to the kingpin, so we are convinced that these arrests will serve as a deterrent to those who are still engaged in these illegal activities," Ramoloko said.

The suspects will be in court soon to face charges of dealing and possession of illicit gold.

A media briefing will be held at the Thabong police station this afternoon to update the press on the progress so far.