Limpopo Economic Development, Environment and Tourism MEC Rodgers Monama has raised concerns about foreign nationals who arrive in the country as asylum seekers but end up committing crime.
Monama raised the concerns during the demolition of 240 illegal gambling machines, mostly Chinese Roulettes, that were confiscated at various spaza shops across the province through the help of “community spy networks.”
The event took place in Ladine, Polokwane, this morning, exactly six months since 226 illegal gambling machines were demolished in November 2022.
“This event today is testimony to that declaration and we promise to leave no stone unturned in ridding our province of illegal gambling machines, as illegal gambling has a devastating impact on the provincial economy and the fiscus.
“Today we meet here once again to dispose of 240 illegal gambling machines which have been confiscated from spaza shops mostly owned by foreign nationals throughout the province. A very disturbing observation is that these foreign nationals have been in the country as asylum seekers, temporary in the Republic of South Africa, but their deeds are against the laws of this country,” said Monama.
The MEC said government leaders could no longer afford to watch the country’s economy being looted by foreign nationals.
“We cannot therefore as government just fold our arms and watch our economy being robbed by people whose only interest is to fill their pockets without ploughing back to the community that is so in need of service delivery.
“Through our informer network, it has been revealed that illegal gambling machines are distributed throughout the province by unknown suppliers, especially in the still of the night to various spaza shops within various towns, townships and villages.
“Upon delivery, these machines are then used for illegal gambling activities, where the generated cash is not accounted for through provincial financial platforms. Unfortunately this generated cash is used to fund criminal activities such as illegal cigarettes, illegal mining and human trafficking,” he said.
Monama said some of the proceeds of the illegal gambling were sent to other provinces while others went offshore, “leaving South Africa’s currency on its knees.”
“During the operations to detach these machines, our law enforcement officials and the police managed to arrest owners and opened criminal cases against them at the local police stations, where later admission of guilt fines of between R500 and R1 000 were paid.
“Unfortunately, this seems not to stop or deter the unscrupulous owners from their practices, as the availability of the illegal gambling machines is increasing at an alarming rate. But most worrying is that some of the suspects are arrested more than once,” the MEC said.
Monama further called for jail sentences to be imposed on those caught running illegal gambling operations.
“Maybe it is time that we impose very heavy fines or jail sentences to show that indeed we are serious about dealing with this scourge.
We always remain indebted to the South African Police Service for partnering with us in this instance where we confiscated 240 illegal gambling machines, in the province.
“Of these illegal machines, 67 were confiscated in Capricorn, 44 in Mopani, 42 in Sekhukhune, 62 in Vhembe and 25 in Waterberg. Although this is the tip of the iceberg, we applaud all the role players for this sterling work. As the province, we are experiencing the proliferation of illegal online gambling which continues to cause serious harm to the gambling industry,” Monama said.
“The illegal online gambling is difficult to monitor and police as it is done at one’s comfort, either through the mobile gadgets or at home through the use of computers. It is a very difficult challenge. That calls for all of us to roll up our sleeves and remove it from the face of our economy. It is a difficult task, but we have to do it otherwise our economy and fiscus will continue to bleed.”