AN INCREASE in violent robberies of gold plants owned by South African miners had descended anarchy, said Neal Froneman, CEO of Sibanye-Stillwater.
According to an article by Bloomberg News, there has been a growing wave of attacks by armed gangs which steal gold produced in the smelting facilities of gold mining firms. In December, for instance, 15 attackers took hostages and plundered the smelting plant at Gold Fields’s South Deep mine, the newswire said.
Asked to comment on a recent attack by a gang on Sibanye-Stillwater’s Cooke mine two weeks ago, Froneman told Bloomberg News: “Mining companies are being attacked by thugs and armed gangs and there is a lack of police response. It eventually has a knock-on impact into society, it’s lawlessness, it’s anarchy”.
There were 19 attacks on gold facilities last year, almost double the number in 2018, said the newswire citing South Africa’s Minerals Council. More than 100 kilograms (3,527 ounces) of gold was stolen in 2019 as bullion rose to a five-year high, although not all companies disclose their losses, said Bloomberg News.
In another event, 50 robbers overwhelmed security at Gold One International’s smelting plant in May. However, the police held back from engaging with the gang after they were fired on, said Jon Hericourt, vice-president of operations at the Chinese-owned miner.
Since the gang made off with an unspecified quantity of gold, the police have only provided scant information on its investigations, he said.
“The fundamental problem is police are not getting on top of organised violent crimes,” said Gareth Newham, heads of justice and violence prevention program at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria. “We are seeing a deterioration in our policing capacity.”
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