Condoms used to smuggle gold
ILLEGAL miners in South Africa are swallowing unrefined gold and platinum in condoms as a new tactic to avoid arrest for smuggling that costs the industry $1.5-billion (R20-billion) a year, police told parliament yesterday.
Illegal mining has plagued South Africa’s mining sector for decades, and extends from smalltime pilfering to global organised crime networks.
The crime costs the industry and government the estimated R20-billion a year in lost sales, taxes and royalties.
“They are ingesting the amalgam concealed in condoms and this is done for two principal reasons. One is to be able to bypass mine security and the other is also to prevent being robbed by opposing groups,” Brigadier Ebrahim Kadwa of the Hawks said, showing parliament slides of gold-filled condoms in miners’ X-rays.
Illegal mining in South Africa involves a complex criminal web that extends from desperate unemployed workers, many from neighbouring countries, to gun-toting gang bosses and front companies exporting refined products to global markets. – Reuters