Pretoria - Gauteng police said they rescued 19 illegal people who were apprehended by angry protesters in Kagiso after they were also allegedly implicated in illegal mining.
Speaking to journalists on Thursday, Deputy Provincial Commissioner Tommy Mthombeni said he could not confirm whether the suspects were involved in illegal mining.
“We found them lying on the floor and the community happened to surround the people, we managed to come in with our specialised units and managed to rescue 19 people, we took them to the police station, processed them and we found that they are illegal in the country.”
Mthombeni said the suspects are still in police custody.
During the raid, at least 20 people were arrested for engaging in illegal mining.
After being fed up with the rate of crime and lack of police action, Kagiso residents took to the streets to apprehend illegal miners.
One person was killed during the protest.
Residents are complaining that zama zamas are committing crimes and the police are doing nothing about it.
However, Mthombeni said they are trying to work with the community to an extent they formed an operation which focuses on illegal mining.
“You will know the numbers in terms of the people who have been arrested, surely these people have been arrested because of the effort police are putting.”
On Tuesday, police conducted a sting operation and seized 700 tonnes of gold-bearing material surpassing R2.5m found in five of the illegal plants uncovered and 20 cellphones.
Over 100 of zama zamas have since been arrested following the gang rape of eight women, but police have yet to positively link them to the rape.
According to reports, one of the victims was raped by at least 10 men.