The 87 suspected illegal miners, arrested in Orkney, the North West, last year following a shootout with law enforcement officers, are foreign nationals who are in South Africa illegally.
On 20 October, the police’s Special Task Force, along with the Hawks and other law enforcement units, followed up on information about illegal mining taking place at an abandoned shaft.
When the police descended on the shaft, they were met with gunfire, Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mohale said at the time.
“The team returned fire wherein eight suspects were wounded and six fatally, while 87 were arrested. One member of the team was wounded,” Mohale added.
News24 previously reported two minibuses, illegal mining paraphernalia, gold-bearing material, 11 illegal firearms (three shotguns, three rifles, four pistols and one revolver) and bags of food were confiscated.
The accused have been charged with attempted murder, illegal possession of prohibited firearms and ammunition, illegal possession of gold, theft and conspiracy to commit an offence.
In a statement on Sunday, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said during a previous court appearance, it was placed on record that none of the accused had legal documents to be in South Africa.
“Their attorney also indicated that they will not be applying for bail based on their illegal status in the country,” NPA spokesperson Henry Mamothame said.
The case has been postponed to Wednesday as the State has applied to have it transferred to a regional court for trial. – (News24Wire)