Chinese national illegal mining kingpin pleaded guilty and sentenced


By Kabelo Abel Mokgalabone

POLOKWANE – Cheng Liang Tom Chen (48) pleaded guilty on two counts of illegal mining when he appeared before the Thabazimbi Regional Court on 17 July 2023.

On 3 August 2022, the Polokwane based Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation in collaboration with National Intervention Unit, Tactical Response Team, Local Criminal Record Centre, Illegal Mining Task Team, Department of Mineral Resources and Energy conducted illegal mining disruptive operation at Zwartkop Zone 1 in Northam area. The operation resulted in the arrest of 5 suspects who were caught in the area transporting chrome without a permit. Chen was amongst the arrested suspects.

During the operation, the team seized 1 excavator, 1 Horse Truck with double trailers loaded with chrome, 1 tipper truck, 2 motor vehicles (Polo and a Mazda) to the value of over R5 million.

Chen was released on bail and while he was out on bail, he was also linked to another case of illegal mining that occurred on 3 August 2022 in Northam area. Through the investigation by the Hawks, the warrant of arrest was issued against Chen and he was rearrested.

The accused pleaded guilty on two counts of illegal mining and he was sentenced to R80 000-00 or 2 years imprisonment.

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