Police Minister Bheki Cele says the DNA tests of the eight women raped at a mine dump on the West Rand recently, will be prioritised.
He was taking part in a ministerial briefing session in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).
The issue of illegal mining has again been thrust into the spotlight after the gang rape of eight women at a mine dump in Krugersdorp while filming a music video.
Police have been widely criticised for the backlog at DNA labs.
The backlog runs into thousands.
It has resulted in victims of gender based crimes to wait at least two years for their cases to make it to court.
Suspects linked to the rape of eight women appear in court:
But Cele told MPs that more than 12 000 cases have been prioritised, including those of the eight women who were gang raped in Krugersdorp.
“We have agreed that they will be prioritised, including cases of eight ladies have been prioritised. We have renewed contracts, we have appointed people [who were] removed from the system and all machines are working,” explains the minister.
Cele says it is untrue that police are reactionary and that a specialised unit has been operating in the Free State since 2019.
The minister adds that police continue to work based on intelligence driven cases.
“We have rescued women who are kept underground as sex slaves. [We have] been cutting supplies like bread and tinned stuff. Police have been underground, making zama zamas (illegal miners) to move to other places,” adds Cele.
Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has likened illegal mining to a war.
“It’s economic sabotage on our economy. That is why we have always said it is a war that needs a specialised unit to deal with it as such,” says Mantashe.
Fourteen of the men arrested at the mine dump have appeared in court.
In the video below, Minister Bheki Cele calls on officials to serve their communities diligently: