‘Fatal clashes between illegal gold mining gangs on the rise’

Police's clampdown on abandoned shafts has led to turf war over territory.

FILE: Minister of Mineral Resources, Ngoako Ramatlhodi, speaks at the 2014 Joburg Indaba on investing in mining and resources in Johannesburg on 8 October 2014. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - The mineral resources department says there's been an increase in fatal clashes between illegal gold mining gangs in Gauteng, because police have started closing down the abandoned shafts, causing a turf war over territory.

The bodies of seven illegal miners have been discovered at abandoned mine shafts on both the East and West Rand since the beginning of the year, and cops are investigating more than a dozen murder cases.

They've also set up a mine crime combating forum which has found that gangs are predominately former miners from South Africa's neighbouring countries.

Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi said the clampdown has been effective but the Hawks need to arrest the kingpins.

"Crime intelligence must focus on the syndicates."

Ramatlhodi said he's also proposing a change in legislation.

"I am proposing that the offenders shouldn't only be charged with trespassing but also with an economic crime so that we can stiffen the penalties."

DEVELOPMENTAL PRICING TO BE ANNOUNCED AT SONA

The minister said earlier that an important announcement on developmental pricing in the mining industry is expected from President Jacob Zuma when he delivers his State of the Nation Address on Thursday.

Ramatlhodi on Tuesday attended the 2015 Annual African Mining Indaba Conference in Cape Town and addressed concerns around the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment (MPRDA) Bill.

He said the price at which minerals are set for government would be clarified.Ramatlhodi added Zuma's decision to send the MPRDA back to Parliament was based on the legality of developmental pricing.