The Virginia High Court has on Tuesday, 14 March 2017 imposed lengthy jail terms to 22 convicted illegal miners.
Lovemore Chaba Mlambo (35) man behind all illegal operations in Masimong mine, will serve 25 years imprisonment as the charges are said to run concurrently. Simon Mashava Cremora (38), will serve 23 years imprisonment as the charges are said to run concurrently.
Ronnie Hlongwane Aaron Chauke (37), Thomas Mauvu (32), Tsepo Mashaba (30), Ernest Raas Mahlako (40) and Matias Patric Sibizwa (27) will serve 22 years imprisonment as the charges are said to run concurrently.
Godfrey Nduna Madiba (43), Nkosokolo Makaula (40), Lazarus Chitebe (20), Manginke Msimango (21), Jabu Mlambo (21), John Mutumane (22), Wanda Nqwilisi (26), Melikhaya Pere (35), Ngarigai Mthisi (27), Samson Muyambo (26),Johang Qwenzi (25), Isaac Moyekeni Motusi (33), Tsokoliso Lephailo (36) and Bongeka Makaula (37) will serve 20 years imprisonment as the charges are said to run concurrently.
The 22 miners were arrested in April 2014 for illegal mining operation that started in August 2012 at Masimong Mine in Welkom. They were arrested during an operation conducted by a security company and the Hawks while the criminals illegally occupied a closed mine. Initially, all convicts were facing 843 charges. However, they were cleared on 266 charges and were found guilty on 577 charges on Monday, 20 February 2017.
Among those multiple charges on which they were found guilty, includes racketeering, money laundering, Contravention of the Precious Metals Act and the Criminal Procedure Act. They were also charged for trespassing and Immigration Act as well as theft worth a grand total of over R120 million.
Lieutenant General Ntlemeza hailed the sentence as a landmark moment in the fight against illegal mining in the country. “We hope that this precedent set by our courts will not only serve as a deterrent, but will also help us in our efforts to combat illegal mining even in other upcoming cases”.