Luxury vehicles impounded as Hawks raid alleged zama zama leaders' homes
A Range Rover Evoque, Ford Raptor, Amarok bakkie, Audi A3 and two Golf GTIs were some of the high-powered vehicles the Hawks seized on Tuesday during a raid to combat illegal mining in Carletonville and Khutsong on the West Rand.
A total of 14 vehicles, including a truck, were seized.
Seven suspects were arrested. They are due to appear at the Carletonville magistrate’s court on charges of fraud, money laundering and contravention of the Precious Metals Act. Two more are being questioned, said police.
Hawks spokesperson Lt-Col Katlego Mogale said the investigation, which began in 2018, was concerning six transactions amounting to R500,000.
“This morning the suspects who had been identified for those transactions were arrested. We’re not leaving out the possibility that these suspects could be linked to other suspects in the country and outside. This is a transnational crime.”
Tuesday's operation began in the early hours with the Hawks supported by home affairs officials.
At one of the alleged kingpins’ homes, police seized four vehicles and arrested the suspect. His wife and children were seen watching through the aluminium and glass door of the home as the cars were driven out by law enforcement officials.
The vehicles were seized on suspicion of being the proceeds of crime.
Maj-Gen Fred Kekana of the SAPS said: “This is not the end. We expect to continue to flush, remove and arrest those who might still be outside [on the streets].”
Spokesperson for the police ministry, Lirandzu Themba the arrests formed part of the Hawks "Gillette" project which has been ongoing since 2018.
"It was targeting individuals higher in the illegal mining activities," Themba said.
Community members encircled the house in Carletonville around midday. They cheered and whistled as the vehicles were impounded.
“We live next to these people but I can’t say I know them well,” said a woman who asked not to be named.
“They are always inside the house and are very reserved. The only activity you would see is the gate closing. The woman is a South African but the guy is a foreign national. Even if you take a picture in front of the house, someone will come out and tell you to go away. It’s been many years with them here but they are private people.”
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