On the 17th of August, 2023, Gauteng police commissioner Elias Mawela took charge of Operation Shanela in Roodepoort. This operation was aimed at addressing various issues, including illegal mining. During the operation, 50 suspected illegal miners were apprehended in Roodepoort, and the authorities confiscated tools being used for unlawful mining activities as reported by SA People.
This initiative, driven by the South African Police Service (SAPS), has been active since May and has yielded significant results. More than 50,000 arrests have been made under its purview, encompassing a range of crimes such as murder, rape, and possessing illegal firearms. The comprehensive approach of Operation Shanela involved a series of measures, including stop-and-search operations, roadblocks, patrols, suspect tracing, and inspections of liquor outlets and second-hand goods dealers. Collaborating with various law enforcement agencies, the SAPS orchestrated this effort under the leadership of Commissioner Mawela.
Specifically addressing the issue of illegal mining, the operation targeted individuals suspected of engaging in this activity. According to SAPS, the arrested suspects were found in possession of tools used for mining, along with suspected materials containing gold and mercury. Commissioner Mawela, as the driving force behind Operation Shanela, led teams on door-to-door searches, targeting not only illegal mining but also weapons, illegal items, and suspects.
As part of the operation’s endeavours, the Gauteng police executed a raid on an abandoned mine in the area. This intervention resulted in the dismantling and disrupting of all ongoing illegal mining operations in that vicinity. Commissioner Mawela’s leadership was evident as he led a convoy of police vehicles, which included tanks and trucks, along the R558 highway to initiate the operation.
The recent surge in crime rates in Roodepoort prompted an increased police presence. This was driven by the necessity to address both the escalating crime situation and the issue of illegal mining in abandoned sites. Acknowledging the critical role of personnel in combating criminal activity, the police concentrated their efforts on the highway near Leratong Village, systematically checking vehicles for compliance. This vigilance was essential considering the tendency of stolen cars from the region to use the Kagiso-Soweto-Lenasia route. Tracker officials, along with members of the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department on horseback and police tanks, actively contributed to this operation.
As the operation progressed, the focus shifted towards tackling the problem of illegal mining sites. The dedicated efforts of the police brigade were channelled into addressing this issue, further demonstrating the multifaceted nature of Operation Shanela and its commitment to maintaining law and order in the area.
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Photo: Twitter / @SA Police Service 🇿🇦