Mine management needs to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to crime if they are to prevent its spread and escalation to more serious crimes in future.

This warning from surface mining industry association, Aspasa, comes after recent news of two mining firm directors murdered in separate incidents in what appears to be organised hits.

This at a time when further reports of mine invasions, racketeering, intimidation, robberies, theft, and other serious crimes currently threatened to bring the industry to its knees. The theft of diesel is also a major concern.

To bring a stop to the growing scourge of crime Aspasa director, Nico Pienaar, says swift and immediate action needs to be taken wherever crimes are reported and no matter how small or trivial these may seem.

He warns that small crimes often have more serious intent and may embolden criminals to escalate tactics. They may also serve as a test of a company’s defences in a precursor to criminal syndicates making their moves.

It has been noted that criminal gangs are well organised and in many ways the police are not properly equipped to handle them.

Nico Pienaar, CEO of Aspasa. Photo credit: Aspasa

Nico Pienaar, CEO of Aspasa. Photo credit: Aspasa

Report crime

“There are several steps that should be taken immediately including reporting the crime to the South African Police Services, mine security and all industry stakeholders, including Aspasa, in the event of serious crimes such as threats made by ‘activists’, racketeering, robberies, and other threats, in order to find elaborative solutions.

“Reporting a crime is the first step in solving it and gives police and the industry valuable information to determine trends, identify underlying issues and make plans to prevent further incidents in future.

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) also needs to be informed through its regional structures and must be formally tasked with assistance to find solutions and intervene where necessary.

“These problems aren’t new, rather they have grown in the face of inactivity of law-enforcers and the silence of victims of criminal activity. Inaction today will surely lead to much bigger problems in future as organised crime syndicates recruit foot soldiers from the ranks of local communities and further afield to squeeze mines to comply with their demands.

Teamwork needed

“What is needed right now are level heads, a unified approach and no tolerance of any criminal activity on or near our mining sites. It is also a good time to revisit community forums and structures to ensure surrounding communities are being accurately represented and are deriving benefit from the operation in line with the company’s corporate social responsibilities.

“Sound community relations are key in shutting the doors on organised crime and act as a telegraph to warn of impending organised criminal activity. If the community feels invested in the mining operation, they will almost certainly blow the whistle on criminal plans before they happen.

“Mines should also become active in community forums, security initiatives and should at the very least have a strong relationship with the local police commander, police forum and security establishments in the area, along with a working relationship with the DMRE, Aspasa and other industry bodies representing surface and other types of mines.