West Rand police spokesperson Sergeant Juliet Mogale said three illegal miners were fighting over gold when one of them fired a shot, fatally wounding one and injuring the other in Durban Deep on Saturday.
Mogale said an illegal miner was arrested and charged with attempted murder and murder. “The men were fighting over the illegal gold they were mining and the suspect shot and killed one man. He then injured another one.”
Durban Deep is one of the areas in the province where illegal mining is rampant. The mine stopped formal gold production in 2001 and has since been taken over by illegal miners, also known as zama-zamas.
Mogale said crime around the area was hard to contain because most of the illegal miners are undocumented immigrants from Lesotho and Zimbabwe.
“It is so hard to trace them because they are not in the country legally. Sometimes they commit crime and then go underground,” Mogale said.
She said it was more difficult to trace the miners for crime because their fingerprints are not officially recorded. She said in cases where they are arrested and deported, they still slip back into the country.
“The problem is that the illegal immigrants commit crime and are then deported. A few months later they come back and commit more crime. It is very hard to stop crime in the area,” Mogale said.
She said murder, robbery and rape were common crimes committed in the area.
In December, women from the nearby informal settlement marched to the Roodepoort police station complaining about the high spate of robberies and sexual assault.
“A lot of rape is committed in the area. In most cases, women are scared to open cases because they are also undocumented and fear being deported,” Mogale said.