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Gold Mine Gangs Tote AK-47s to Outgun South African Police

  • Attacks on nation’s gold facilities almost doubled last year
  • Assault are part of wider wave of violent crime in country
Wreckage of a mining security armored personnel carrier that was set alight by attackers at a Sibanye Gold facility.
Wreckage of a mining security armored personnel carrier that was set alight by attackers at a Sibanye Gold facility.Source: Sibanye Gold Ltd

At 10 p.m. on the second Sunday in December, a criminal platoon armed with AK-47 and R6 assault rifles stormed one of the largest gold mines still operating on South Africa’s fabled Witwatersrand basin.

Moving with military precision, the 15 attackers took hostages and plundered the smelting plant at Gold Fields Ltd.’s South Deep mine. While failing to break into the main vault, the gang escaped three hours later with gold concentrate worth as much as $500,000.