On Thursday, a group of individuals suspected of being major members in an illegal mining gang operating in the West Rand made their first appearance in Carletonville Magistrates’ Court.
Bethuel Ngobeni, Nhlahla Leon Magwaca, Thabo Prince Sechele, Moseki Sechele, Dumisani Moyo, and Khudzai Mashaya, six of the suspected illegal mining kingpins, are charged with seven charges of trafficking in precious metals and three counts of fraud and money laundering.
According to NPA spokesperson Lumka Mahanjana, three more female suspects were apprehended on Thursday.
“Lerato Bathebeng, Poppy Mathongwane and Suzan Duba are each facing a charge of money laundering.
“It is alleged that Magwaca, who is Dube’s boyfriend and Ngobeni, who is a husband to both Bathebeng and Mathongwane, both bought movable and immovable assets with the proceeds of crime in the name of their partners. Therefore, the partners unduly benefited from the proceeds of crime,” Mahanjana said.
Mahanjana added the three were granted R2 000 bail each. “Ngobeni, Thabo Sechele and Maseki told the court, through their legal representative, that they intend to bring a bail application on new facts. Therefore, the matter was postponed to 29 September 2023 for the bail application on new facts.
“The bigger case of the nine accused was postponed to 30 November for the defence to be furnished with an indictment and a high court date,” Mahanjana said.
Last week, Gauteng law enforcement authorities launched preservation and forfeiture operations in Khutsong and Carletonville, targeting 51 cars and seven properties connected to the six illicit mining suspects.
Colonel Katlego Mogale, a police spokesperson, said the operation took conducted after investigators obtained preservation orders under the Prevention of Organized Crime Act 121 of 1988.
These orders are intended to put legal safeguards in place to protect or prevent the disposal or transfer of certain properties and vehicles suspected of being the profits of unlawful acts.
According to Mogale, the assets are thought to be linked to illegal gold extraction activities in Khutsong and Carletonville.