The Gauteng Provincial Legislature’s Portfolio Committee on Community Safety has called for law enforcement agencies to develop specialised units that will help to eliminate illegal mining in the province.
The call comes after 17 people were killed on Wednesday after they inhaled a poisonous gas substance in Angelo informal settlement, Boksburg.
The incident took place on Wednesday night. A further 11 people were admitted at Tambo Memorial Hospital.
It is suspected that they inhaled a nitrate gas, which was used for mining activities.
Illegal miners, commonly referred to as zama-zamas, allegedly got their hands on a nitrate oxide gas tank which they intended to use in their illegal mining activities. The poisonous gas was what allegedly killed the community members.
“Illegal mining has brought enormous and devastating challenges of maintaining the rule of law in the province,” said Thebe Khumalo, chairperson of the committee.
Khumalo said the province has over years witnessed the senseless loss of innocent lives at the hands of illegal miners, and now, the committee calls for law enforcement agencies to develop dedicated and specialised units that will fight illegal mining in Gauteng.
“The committee is saddened by these events and calls on community members of the Angelo informal settlement and all other citizens to refrain from engaging in this unsafe and illegal mining.
“The committee further calls on the private security industry as well as Community Policing Forums to continue working together with SAPS in the fight against illegal mining in the province,” he said.
Khumalo added that the committee awaits a report from SAPS, giving a detailed account on the incident and what is being done to eradicate illegal mining in Gauteng.
Earlier, President Cyril Ramaphosa said he wants answers following the deadly incident.
Presidency spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya said the president wished to extend his heartfelt condolences to the families that have lost loved ones.
“President Ramaphosa has described this as a very sad morning. He further urges investigators to get to the bottom of what may have caused this accident to avoid similar disasters in future,” he said.