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Crackdown on Mineral Theft: Truck Driver Arrested with RBM's Stolen Minerals Worth Millions

Published March 21, 2024
2 months ago

In a relentless fight against mineral theft, a truck driver is set to appear before the Empangeni Magistrates Court on Friday for possession of illicit minerals valued at approximately R15.5 million. According to the spokesperson, Brigadier Athlenda Mathe, the accused was apprehended following targeted operations by a specialised Task Team aimed at thwarting mineral theft and protecting mining executives in the Richards Bay area.

The Task Team’s perseverance paid off when the 44-year-old truck driver's vehicle was discovered abandoned near Kwabonambi. The subsequent investigation effortlessly traced the minerals back to their rightful owner, Richards Bay Minerals (RBM), and were found in Durban.

Richards Bay Minerals has been plagued with harrowing incidents leading up to this latest development. The mining sector has been facing severe security challenges, including the assassination of mining executives. In 2016, RBM manager Ronnie Nzimande was killed in an ambush. Likewise, Judia Mbuyazi, was murdered in 2020 in Richards Bay. A tragic highlight came on 4 May 2021, when RBM General Manager Nico Swart was fatally attacked on his way to work.

These violent events spurred the formation of a dedicated Task Team to address the spiraling crime rate in the mining sector. The Task Team has been a beacon of progress, its establishment leading to 43 arrests covering an array of crimes such as murder, theft, and unlawful possession of firearms, among others.

The team's doggedness is reflected in the statistics: 68 cases are on the docket, with 47 already progressing through the court systems. Their efforts have also culminated in the seizure of 202 firearms, including a range of rifles, handguns, and shotguns over three years. These achievements mark a significant step in upholding the law and safeguarding the well-being of individuals and assets in the mining industry.

With the latest arrest and the considerable value of the recovered minerals, the spotlight is once again on the efficacy and necessary presence of the Task Team. Their work not only ensures the protection of one of South Africa's pivotal economic sectors but also serves justice for those who've paid the ultimate price.

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