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South Africa mining minister fires 2, investigates 7 officials over fraud

South Africa's Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe has followed through on his promise to fight corruption, targeting a total of nine officials within the Department of Mineral Resources, or DMR, the minister said on the sidelines of the Joburg Indaba in Johannesburg.

Two senior officials have been dismissed, while seven others are being investigated over fraud charges.

"There are seven people who are in court for corruption; some are from the Department of Mineral Resources and others in collaboration with officials. Two have been fired," Mantashe told journalists, adding that he "discovered things he expected to see" after taking over from predecessor Mosebenzi Zwane around seven months ago.

Corruption allegations against the DMR picked up especially under minister Zwane, who sparked controversy over his close ties with the Gupta family. Zwane was said to have acted as a direct emissary for the Guptas in former president Jacob Zuma's government, facilitating favorable deals, including the sale of Glencore PLC's Optimum coal mine in 2016. The buyer of the mine was a company controlled by President Jacob Zuma's son and the Gupta family.

Under Zwane, the DMR faced serious credibility issues both among investors and miners. During this year's Joburg Indaba, speakers widely referred to Zwane's reign as the "disaster time."

Mantashe has taken a strong stance against corruption since he took office earlier this year.

Under his ministry, he has already suspended operations at a regional office in Mpumalanga over corruptions claims in context of mining licenses.