Hawks arrest 36, seize AK47s during illegal mining turf battle in North West

20 December 2020 - 13:17
By philani nombembe AND Philani Nombembe
Some of the weapons recovered at the scene.
Image: Supplied Some of the weapons recovered at the scene.

The Hawks averted a deadly fight between illegal miners in the North West town of Stilfontein on Sunday.

Hawks spokesperson Col Katlego Mogale said members responded to a “an apparent turf war among armed factions” of alleged illegal miners. They recovered several firearms including three AK47 rifles and apprehended 36 suspects.

“The district illicit mining task team and local police were the first respondents on the scene where a fight between over 100 illegal miners near Stilfontein shaft was under way. The warring rivals are believed to be Lesotho nationals fighting to assert dominance over each other for illegal mining turf,” said Mogale.

“The Hawks' serious organised crime investigation team were summoned to the scene. The collaborative efforts between the authorities resulted in at least 36 suspects aged between 20 and 42 being arrested after they split into small groups upon discovering law enforcement presence.”

“One suspect was shot and wounded in the upper body after he reportedly ignored calls for him to drop his firearm,” said Mogale.

“Three loaded AK47 assault rifles, a .303 rifle, a pistol, magazines and various ammunition were seized. The group is expected to appear at the Stilfontein magistrate's court on Tuesday to face various charges including, conspiracy to commit a crime, possession of prohibited firearms and ammunition. Meanwhile their status of being in the country is also a subject of an ongoing investigation.”