Warrant obtained for zama-zama ‘masterminds’

Henry

The Pretoria Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) of the National Prosecuting Authority obtained yet another preservation order of more than R3 million in the Pretoria High Court on Thursday.

The order is to preserve several properties belonging to Bethuel Ngobeni, Lerato Bathebeng, Poppy Mathongwane, Dumisani Moyo, Nhlanhla Leon Magwaca, Neo Susan Duba and Thabo Sechele.

Lumka Mahanjana, spokesperson for the NPA, says this property is the proceeds from illegal activities of a syndicate that trades in unprocessed gold in Khutsong and Carletonville.

Prior to this order, the AFU had obtained three preservation orders. The first order was issued on 31 July 2023, the second on 7 August 2023 and the third on 30 August 2023.

All four orders amount to more than R20 million for 55 vehicles, 10 properties in Khutshong and Carletonville and R91 000 in cash and valuable assets.

“This stems from an investigation by the directorate for priority crime investigations (the Hawks) which led to the arrest of six persons. They are said to be masterminds in illegal mining operations and their three wives.”

The syndicate mainly consists of foreigners from Zimbabwe and Mozambique who fraudulently obtained South African ID documents.

“The next step is to apply for the confiscation order. Once this is granted, the properties will be sold at a public auction. The proceeds will be paid into the criminal assets recovery account.”

The court case against nine defendants, who stand trial on various charges, including money laundering, will begin on 24 July 2024 in the Pretoria High Court. It was earlier transferred from the Oberholzer Magistrate’s Court.