Specialised police units will be deployed to Riverlea to restore law and order in the community, according to Police Minister Bheki Cele.
“These specialised units are being brought in to ensure we apprehend these illegal miners and put a stop to these illegal operations. Our focus is to ensure law and order is restored in this area. We cannot have a situation where communities live in fear. We are going to deal decisively with these criminals,” Cele said.
Cele visited the Johannesburg area following the murders of five suspected illegal miners near the Zamimpilo informal settlement at the weekend.
Preliminary police investigations suggest that two rival groups of illegal miners were shooting at each other in the area, and that led to the deaths of the five people.
Cele on Monday led a high-level delegation to the area, where they engaged with concerned community members, and assured them that police are mobilising all resources and specialised units to the area.
"This includes 100 South Africans, 124 Zimbabweans, 232 Basotho nationals from Lesotho, and 79 Mozambicans. R1.8 million, rounds of ammunition, 177 vehicles, 7 trucks, 771 digging tools, 5 TLBs, 233 phendukas (similar to a shovel), and 771 digging tools were seized, among other items," Cele said in a statement.
Cele said that since May last year, police have ensured the establishment of the Economic Infrastructure Task Teams (EITT).
He said 20 teams have been set up in hot spot areas to combat illegal mining. They will prevent damage to critical and essential infrastructure as well as extortion on construction sites.