Acting chief of the Joburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) Angie Mokasi said the ongoing collaboration with the SAPS to counter the growing scourge of illegal mining has been successful.
Hundreds of the illegal miners, colloquially referred to as zama-zamas, have been arrested across Joburg in recent weeks as police specialised units fight the scourge. In some instances, police had to exchange gunfire with the gangs of heavily armed miners.
“Currently we are prioritising dealing with zama-zamas. On average we dedicate around 100 officers and then we get supplement (officers) from SAPS. On a daily basis we are conducting disruptive operations,” Mokasi said, speaking to eNCA on Thursday morning.
“The areas that are affected include Roodepoort area which is region C, region B which is next to Riverlea and the place called Zamimpilo (informal settlement), and then there is also part on a lower scale in region F.
“We divide our manpower according to operations of the day together with the SAPS,” she said.
She said the majority of the zama-zamas are foreign nations from neighbouring countries, mainly Lesotho and Zimbabwe.
Last month, IOL reported that Police Minister Bheki Cele promised to resolve the matter of illegal miners who have made Riverlea and Zamimpilo informal settlement a war zone.
Cele visited Riverlea which had been rocked by protests and vowed that he would not allow the residents to be terrorised by the illegal miners, and promised that he would return to the area with a comprehensive plan to curb the shootings by illegal miners.
The minister returned and had interactions with the community which complains that their lives have been turned upside down by rival zama-zama group which are often fighting.
In July, police in Gauteng responded to a shooting incident in the Riverlea and nearby Zamimpilo informal settlement and found five dead bodies.
Gauteng police spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Mavela Masondo said at the scene, and during the investigation, police discovered five bodies with gunshot wounds.
Preliminary police investigations suggest that two rival groups of illegal miners were shooting at each other in the area, and that led to the death of the five people.
“Police have deployed members from the Tactical Response Team and Public Order Policing to monitor the area. A case of murder, with five counts, has been opened,” said Masondo at the time.
“Police are appealing to anyone who might have information that can help in the investigation or assist in the apprehension of the suspects to please call the nearest police station or call crime stop on 086-001-0111.”