MORE than 30 illegal miners, some believed to be from Lesotho have been arrested and six others fatally shot in a shoot-out with North West police at a ventilation shaft in Orkney on Wednesday.
Oct. 9, 2021
2 min read
Zama-zamas killed in SA mine
An illegal miner near an open mine shaft
- Arrested illegal miners to appear in court soon
- Bodies found near one of the mine shafts
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The South African media has reported that Police spokesperson Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone said a group of about 300 “zama zamas” as the illegal miners are commonly called attacked and shot at security officers and police when they attempted to stop them from delivering food parcels to illegal miners underground.
“The shooting incidents led to the deaths of illegal miners,” Mokgwabone said.
He said four bodies were found in the vicinity of the shaft, one was discovered about 800 m from the crime scene, while the sixth was found in bushes near Kanana location.
Mokgwabone said several food parcels and two firearms were seized.
He said 35 suspects were arrested for attempted murder, causing an explosion, malicious damage to property and conspiracy to commit crime.
“The arrests and shooting incidents came after a decision by the mine management to clamp down on illegal mining activities by closing the ventilation shaft which the zama zamas had been using to enter and exit various shafts.
“The action effectively stopped the supply of food and water to the zama zamas,” he said.
Mokgwabone said some of the illegal miners had allegedly, due to shortages of food and water, used explosives to open a hole and started to exit the shaft on Saturday.
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On Sunday, more than 500 had already exited the shaft.
“They were thoroughly processed, including being medically examined for dehydration before being released. Some were treated by paramedics while a few others were taken to hospital.”
The arrested suspects are expected to appear in court soon.
There are many Basotho who are working in abandoned South African gold mines as illegal miners and scores have already being killed in deadly shoot-outs that frequently occur in those mines. LeNA