Joint Illegal Mining Report

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Mineral Resources and Energy

25 November 2022
Chairperson: Mr S Luzipo (ANC), Mr M Chabane (ANC) and Mr A Seabi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


Tabled Committee Reports

The Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy held a joint virtual meeting with the Portfolio Committees on Police and Home Affairs, to consider and adopt the Joint Illegal Mining report. The Committee discussed the report and agreed to adopt it, with a need for amendments and inclusions. Members of the DA reserved their rights.

The Committees undertook a joint oversight visit from 10 to 11 September 2022 to the Limpopo Province. The two-day joint oversight visit stemmed from an earlier joint oversight visit by the Portfolio Committees on Mineral Resources and Energy, and Police to establish facts regarding the gang-rape and robbery incident that occurred on 28 July 2022 in West Village, Krugersdorp. The incident took place at a mine that holds a mining right, issued by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE). It was alleged that the perpetrators were illegal miners, mostly foreign nationals. This mine incident highlighted a bigger challenge, which is illegal mining. For this reason, the visit by the Committees was broadly on illegal mining.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks

Chairperson Luzipo said it was coincidentally the beginning of the 16 days of activism against women and children violence. He acknowledged that the backdrop of the exercise was the incident that had happened in Krugersdorp, which included massive rapes against women. Unfortunately, the charges had been dropped.

It had been an outstanding exercise for the three Committees to work together on the project, and he thanked the Members for finally bringing it to a conclusion. He commented that as a country, South Africa was still confronted with high crime statistics. Therefore the exercise was geared toward curtailing gender-based violence (GBV) and communities being subjected to a reign of terror, which was one of the most important tasks for Parliament to undertake.

Chairperson Seabi also appreciated the cooperation among the Committees and their working together. It had not been an easy task to bring them together, but they were trying to deal with the issue of illegal mining. They had sacrificed their weekends to do the work of Parliament and to represent the communities. He hoped that the collaboration would continue in future.

Chairperson Chabane extended his appreciation to the staff of the Committees for engaging in the exercise. He appreciated the commitment, even though the exercise was not easy. He commended the three Departments for responding to the issues that the stakeholders had been complaining about.

Chairperson Luzipo said that since the report had been circulated beforehand, he wanted the Members to focus on the intentions and the outcomes of the oversight work, as well as the observation and the recommendations.

The Chairpersons took the Committee through the pages of the report from the introduction; the definitions-trends and the causes of illegal mining; key emerging issues cutting across provinces; the Free State as a case study; the legislative framework, and the gaps in legislation, where the Chairperson said there was a need to include the Companies Act in terms of the legislative framework. The Committee Secretariat took the Members through the observations and the recommendations.

Read the report here


Chairperson Chabane said that the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs had sent the report to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) so it could respond to some of the issues raised in the report, and could come up with an action plan after seeing the recommendations.

Ms P Madokwe (EFF) said that the Committees had observed that there had been no link between the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) regarding the operations to deal with illegal mining. The Committee had also recommended that there was a need for the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services to be part of the Joint Committee because there were several issues it needed to account for.

She listed five observations for consideration:

  • Regarding the intervention done in Gauteng, the Committees could look into construction in the areas instead of closing the mines. It was imperative to create economic activities in these areas of illegal mining.
  • There was no clear profiling of illegal mining activities in SA. There was so much emphasis on the miners, but not enough in terms of the value chain and the beneficiaries.
  • There was no clear plan for the environmental impact and the infrastructure damage caused by illegal mining. The emphasis was only on mines that were ownerless, and not so much in terms of how to deal with the damage caused by the illegal miners.
  • Illegal mining was also happening in active mines under business rescue and where mines had been temporarily closed.
  • There was collusion between the mining right holders and the illegal miners.

Mr M Mahlaule (ANC) said one of the most important recommendations was to include the role of the Department of Justice and Correctional Services (DJCS). It was an important observation, because it was at the centre of the problems. For example, in the Free State, people would get arrested for illegal mining and they would get bail because they would bribe judges, correctional service officers and other employees. For example, there was the case of "David One Eye," the kingpin who had been given a standing ovation by correctional service officers. The Deputy Commissioner had also said that there was a law that the magistrate was refusing to implement, while the higher courts had instructed them to do so mainly because they would affect the system of patronage.

The second recommendation referred to traditional leaders writing a letter to investors to allow them to mine. He said these were not really investors, and the term was coined so it would be something appropriate. Investors knew the channels, and these were not investors.

Mr O Terblanche (DA) commended Members for their hard work compiling the report. He said that during the visit to Gauteng and the Free State, it had been agreed to consider to what extent they could convert the illegal mining into something that could create permanent employment.

Mr H Shembeni (EFF) said that if the DMRE were given the necessary funds to close those mines, it would deal with all the other problems related to illegal mining. Traditional leaders had to be told that the minerals belonged to the government of South Africa,  to dissuade them from sending letters to investors.

Chairperson Chabane said that three sites had been visited in the North West Province, and there was a recommendation that the committees go back to check if the issues had been addressed. The Commissioner promised to work with the DMRE to give papers to the police and the case numbers.

Chairperson Luzipo agreed, and said that the concern was that there was a failure to flatten all the infrastructure being used as a seedbed for criminal activities. The Department had to act by destroying all the structures so that the zama zamas did not use them for criminal activities. The Department had given a guarantee that they would give the Committee a progress report on the action. 

Another recommendation was that they were concerned with the outcomes of the ruling of the judiciary regarding illegal mining. Chairperson Luzipo highlighted that they had not got the judiciary's point of view on whether the information they had, warranted convictions.

Regarding the legislation, they talked about the issue of the harmonisation of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) and the Companies Act. Most of the mining companies and individuals would apply using the MPRDA, and they were confronted by financial challenges. They would opt for the Companies Act, which would allow the use of businesses. He agreed that it was an error not to include the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correction Services.

Ms A Khanyile (DA) commented that the SAPS had complained that it would arrest the immigrants taking part in illegal mining, but when taken to court, the magistrate would let them out. This was because the Department had been taken to court in 2017 because of section 34 1b of the Immigration Act. The section allowed deportees to request that their deportation should be confirmed by the court. Section (d) allowed for a further extension of 90 days. The Constitutional Court had found it was unconstitutional, and had suggested that section 35 of the Constitution required that every detained person had to appear in person in court after 48 hours, and that the matter could not be left to the illegal immigrants to request this. This made it difficult for the magistrate to make a ruling on the matter. The issue had to be addressed so the magistrate could make a ruling and address the SAPS's concern in the Free State.

Chairperson Seabi commented on the observation that said that the Committee had trespassed, and asked whether it was an observation.

Chairperson Luzipo responded to the issue raised by Ms Khanyile, and said there were two issues -- one was the legislation gap, and the other needed to be amended. There was a need to engage the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) to deal with the issues affecting SAPS on the issues of illegal mining. The Committee had observed that allegations had been levelled against officials of the departments, and those in the judiciary. There were allegations against the national prosecuting officers and the presiding officers, and there was a need to develop consequence management exercises. The Chairperson asked if the report could be adopted with the amendments mentioned.

Members moved to adopt the report, with the amendments.

Mr Terblanche said that the DA reserved its rights on the adoption of the report.

Mr Mahlaule asked which right was being reserved. He said it was important so it could be noted.

Chairperson Luzipo said he had never asked, but he knew the Member was allowed to do so.

Mr Terblanche said it was a general principle, and he would not say anything further.

Mr Mahlaule said it was painful to be subjected to that treatment, because they had put so much into the report, and the DA was now subjecting them to unnecessary delays regarding a report they had all participated in preparing.

Chairperson Luzipo said they all came from different constituencies, and there were rules of Parliament. Members had the right to express their views differently.

Chairperson Chabane agreed, saying that the Members had the right to say either yes or no.

Chairperson Seabi also agreed, but pointed out that some of the Members who were reserving their rights had contributed to the report.

Chairperson Luzipo thanked all the Members, and said it was never easy to navigate the complexity of two or more committees. He thanked the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs for starting with the efforts to develop the action plan. He emphasised the need to develop a mechanism to measure progress, even if it meant coming back to check on it.

The meeting was adjourned.



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