In a huge raid, an illegal gambling hub in Mashishing (formerly Lydenburg) and Coromandel in Mpumalanga was brought down by the Hawks, South Africa’s organised crime unit which seeks out those who make be heavily invested in gangster-related activities. Several types of gambling machines, all illegal, were seized, as were seven suspects who had allegedly been operating the illegal gambling establishment.
But it was not an undercover operation led by the Hawks that saw these illegal operators being found out. Rather, the raid was conducted after members of the public complained about the shops, after they noticed that children who were underage were being allowed to play on the machines, allegedly after stealing money from their parents. A representative of the community claimed that some of the children that had been noticed playing the machines were as young as five.
After reports, the Hawks unit of 14 members was sent into the town to clamp down on illegal operations and try to uncover any hidden equipment that could have been linked to illegal gambling South African operations. However, it seems they were not quite fast enough as news of the raid spread like wildfire, causing many shop owners to hide their machines, shut down their stores and make a run for it. However, some suspects were arrested including a Chinese man who was identified as the supplier of the illegal gambling machines. The suspects are still being questioned but it seems two more were arrested after the raid, this time in Coromandel.
As for the machines, these were broken into and the money within them was confiscated, a total of about R3 500. The suspects were given bail amounts of about R5 000 each, a high figure for those living in that part of the country, as it was hoped this amount would be difficult for them to find and thus, they would be kept off the streets of the city.
The Mpumalanga Gambling released a statement about South African casino operators who are not licensed or registered, stating that all illegal gambling types from unlicensed EBTs to umshayninas and unlicensed vendors would be removed from the streets of the province and prevented from operating. The authority’s goal is to stop people from being take advantage of, to prevent organised criminal activities and to prevent these types of illegal gambling operators from slipping through the fingers of justice, which in turn detracts from the communities in which they operate, heightens crime levels and corrupts children.
The public opinion it seems, is that these operators will come back even stronger and though the provincial authority has made clear its plan to remove them from the streets, like a bad case of head lice, they simply will not be removed without a fight. This is affecting children in the area, is contributing to organised crime and may have serious implications on the communities involved and the province as a whole, but what the Mpumalanga Gambling Board intends to do about the problem in the long run is yet to be seen.