The South African Police Service (SAPS), South African National Defence Force (SANDF), and the Department of Home Affairs are actively engaged in Operation Vala Umgodi to combat the scourge of illegal mining activities in areas affected by this criminal phenomenon.

Through a seamless collaboration between the SAPS, SANDF, and Immigration Officers of the Department of Home Affairs under the banner of Operation Vala Umgodi, numerous individuals involved in illegal mining operations and immigration law violations have been apprehended across various districts in Limpopo Province from Thursday, 14 March to Friday, 15 March 2024.

In a significant operation on Thursday, 14 March 2024, at around 09:40, law enforcement agencies successfully intercepted and arrested three male foreign nationals who were illicitly excavating minerals at a prohibited mining site in Mandagshoek village, situated outside Burgersfort in the Sekhukhune District. The suspects are facing charges related to illegal mining activities and contraventions of immigration laws.

In a recent series of Operation Vala Umgodi operations, multiple individuals were apprehended for various offenses in different districts of Limpopo.

A total of five male suspects of foreign nationality, aged between 28 and 49 were intercepted at Ga-Nkidikitlana village outside Mokopane in the Waterberg District. These individuals were caught in the act of illegally mining sand and loading it into a white Mitsubishi tipper truck. Subsequently, they were taken into custody for both illegal sand mining and violations of immigration laws. The cases are registered at the Gilead SAPS.

In another incident within the Capricorn District, as part of Operation Vala Umgodi, a 26-year-old male suspect was arrested at Bergenek village outside Polokwane on Friday, 15 March 2024. The individual was apprehended for the possession and distribution of dagga. Upon inspection of his residence, the Police discovered 40 packed sachets and a substantial quantity of loose dagga, with an estimated street value of R20, 000, along with a significant amount of cash. Additionally, a 31-year-old male suspect was taken into custody on the streets of Bergenek village for breaching immigration regulations. The related cases were collectively lodged at SAPS Westenburg for further processing.

Moreover, on the same day, the Border Policing Teams stationed at Beitbridge Port of Entry conducted a successful operation as part of Operation Vala Umgodi. During their patrol along the Beitbridge fence, they apprehended 27 individuals for contravening immigration laws. These suspects were promptly handed over to Immigration Officers for immediate deportation proceedings.

The Limpopo Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Thembi Hadebe hailed the collaborative efforts by the teams involved in these arrests as well as confiscations.

The arrested suspects are expected to appear before various Magistrate’s Courts on Monday, 18 March 2024.