Mogale City Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) responsible for Public Safety Francis Makgatho alongside senior South African Police Service (SAPS) officials and other law enforcement agencies recently led the multi-disciplinary Operation Fiela sweep in Rietvallei 2 and 3, near Azaadville. The Mogale City initiated campaign which is aimed at clamping down on business compliance, illegal hawking, sale of counterfeit goods and other areas of non-compliance shifted its focus to illegal mining around Mogale City.

Amid the President’s deployment of the South African Defence Force in illegal mining hotspots around the country, Operation Fiela yielded its own results as over 50 illegal miners (Zama Zamas) and 10 undocumented foreign nationals were arrested during the intense and risky operation.  

The operation kicked off at the Luipaardsvlei Landfill Site which has been dogged by illegal miners’ territory fight and the sourcing of protection fees from over 150 waste reclaimers and others using and working within the vicinity of the landfill site. This subsequently affected waste removal services as municipal trucks could not access the dangerous landfill site.

In its efforts to clamp down on illegal mining taking place within the vicinity of the landfill site, the municipality brought in a tractor-loader backhoe (TLB) to fill up a humungous open case hole meant for further operations. The TLB was also brought in to destroy over 50 Phendukas i.e. a man-made machine used to rotate soil until gold is extracted.

The operation continued to Reitvallei 2 and 3 where residents also assisted operation members in identifying houses where Zama Zamas were hiding and operating. This not only a sign that community members are fed up with being terrorised by the gun-wielding Zama Zamas but that illegal mining is an unpleasant scourge that was left unaddressed for too long.

MMC Makgatho attributed the success of the mini operation to collaborative work made up of Gauteng Crime Prevention Wardens, Gauteng Traffic Department, SAPS, Mogale City Wardens and Kagiso SAPS Community Policing Forum.

The MMC also said that with the community playing a role in collaborating with the Zama Zamas, the fight against crime stemming from illegal mining activity will remain a pipe dream. He however thanked the multi-disciplinary operation team for their work and role in apprehending the perpetrators and trusted that they will be brought to book.