newsIn a comprehensive special report, TMG Digital/TimesLive write that across South Africa‚ mining towns are under siege from illicit syndicates.  

Employing thousands of desperate jobseekers‚ these syndicates‚ who earn billions of rand annually through the illegal sale of precious metals and diamonds‚ are in fierce competition with global mining giants.  It’s estimated that about 10% of SA’s gold production is stolen and smuggled out of the country, amounting to about R7-billion a year.  With a workforce 30‚000 strong, the syndicates’ operations run day and night.  A Welkom mine security officer (identity withheld) commented that, far from being disorganised, zamas zamas (illegal miners) were highly sophisticated.  "They are geniuses.  They have engineers‚ communications specialists‚ people who can create special lighting systems.  They operate with intricate buying and selling networks.  These guys are anything but stupid."  There are often battles underground, but the money is good.  Government has identified illicit mining as a national threat‚ with a multi-agency team formed to co-ordinate the State's efforts to combat it.

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