An intelligence driven operation resulted in the arrest of a 22-year-old suspect and detection of a fully operational gold refinery laboratory in a smallholding in Zuurbekom, Westonaria, on 16 May 2023.
The operation was executed by an integrated team led by the Hawks in collaboration with Tactical Response Team (TRT), Forensic division of the South African Police Service in West Rand, officials from the Department of Environmental Affairs as well as the Sibanye Stillwater’s Asset Protection Services.
Approximately one thousand two hundred and sixty (1260) tons of gold bearing material with an estimated value of R3 million was found along with two (2) generators, nearly two hundred (200) kg of loaded carbon and a cell phone.
The suspect was arrested and all exhibits were seized for further investigation.
The suspect who is a foreign national, was not in possession of proper documentation and an additional charge of contravening the Immigration Act 13 of 2002 may be preferred against him.
He is expected to appear on 18 May 2023 in the Westonaria Magistrates Court on charges of contravention of Precious Metals Act 37 of 2005 and operating an illegal gold refinery.
The Hawks Provincial Head in Gauteng, Major General Ebrahim Kadwa lauded the sterling work of the combined team, he added “the suspect was clearly not working alone, our work is cut out and no stone will be left unturned”.