BARBERTON – Intelligence driven disruptive operation was conducted by members of the Hawks Serious organized crime investigation Nelspruit and Middelburg assisted by National Intervention Unit, Bomb disposal, Tactical Response Team, Local Criminal Record Center, SAPS Barberton and SSG Security Services on Wednesday, December 23, at Brown farm in Barberton.
The investigation led to the discovery of the illegal laboratory which operated in a farm where a group of illegal miners are employed to illegally process gold.
On arrival at the farm, the team heard the sound of hammers from the nearby bushes and the team disrupted the group and 10 suspects, five illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe and five locals were arrested. Among the suspects, two are minors aged 15 and 16 and others are between the ages of 18 to 37.
During the interview, the suspects confirmed that they are employed by different bosses, one is responsible for illegal immigrants and the other one for locals. The immigrants explained that their boss is from Zimbabwe but resides in Johannesburg and he only comes occasionally to check on them.
The locals confirmed that they are employed by the local boss. The team followed the suspect’s alibi which led to the arrest of the mastermind who was at the nearby house in the same premises next to the laboratory.
The team entered the house where the suspect was found using crutches and on questioning about his condition he explained to the team that he was injured in the mine.
The team introduced themselves and the purpose of the operation and requested to search the house. Upon the search crashed gold bearing materials were found and confiscated and the suspect was arrested for possession of the gold bearing materials.
The suspect was also charged for contravening section 43 of basic conditions of employment act of 2017. The suspect’s motor vehicle, a double cab silver ford ranger which is suspected to be used in the commission of crime was also confiscated for further investigation.
During the search in other house unlicensed. 22 hunting rifle, telescope and live ammunitions were found and confiscated. A 20-year-old male was arrested for illegal possession of firearm and ammunitions.
The following exhibits were also found and confiscated, pendukas, hammers, Generators, cellphones, Gold bearing material, chemicals and gas cylinders containing mercury.
The suspects are detained and they will appear before the Barberton Magistrate’s Court on Monday, December 28.