Tons of illicit gold was shipped out of South Africa at the height of state capture.
The sale of 34t of gold to Dubai between 2012 and 2016 is not reflected in SA’s trading accounts, according to Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime research.
The research suggests illegal gold mining costs the fiscus more than R14bn a year, and that the precious metal is smuggled primarily through Eswatini (Swaziland) and Mozambique to the jewellery manufacturing hubs of Dubai, Karachi and Mumbai.
The new South African gold rush, according to GI researchers and Oxfam, is driven by rising commodity prices and the closure of the SA Revenue Service illicit economy team.
The South African Diamond & Precious Metals Regulator’s limited number of inspectors – it has only 13 – aggravated the problem, they said.
Brig Ebrahim Kadwa, head of the serious organised crime unit at the Hawks, said illegal mining had reached a point where it threatened SA’s economy.