Johannesburg - Police spokesperson colonel Mavela Masondo has confirmed an incident of shooting which resulted in the death of at least 20 alleged illegal miners on the weekend.
Masondo said the police responded to an incident of shooting in Riverlea and nearby Zamimpilo Informal Settlement.
He said at the scene and during the investigation police discovered five bodies with gunshot wounds.
“Preliminary investigation suggests that two rival groups of the illegal miners were shooting at each in the area, and that led to the death of 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,” Masondo.
It is reported that 20 bodies of illegal miners were discovered after a shootout in Riverlea on Sunday morning.
According to media reports, the shooting was due to an alleged gun battle between rival groups of suspected illegal miners.
This comes after residents of Riverlea South of Joburg reported last week that gun-wielding illegal miners continued to terrorise them, with reports indicating that armed gangs carrying rifles had become a common sight.
One of the residents of the area, Cynthia Hobbs, said illegal miners had turned Riverlea into a war zone. She said she and many of the residents in the area were living in fear as they hear gunfire almost daily.
"What we are going through right now and almost every other day in Riverlea is that they still set off fireworks at FNB, which is on our doorstep. The elderly and kids are traumatised by fireworks and anything that sounds like gunfire because of what we're experiencing with the zama zamas," she said.
Crime-fighting expert Yusuf Abramjee said he had been receiving calls from concerned residents about the alleged gang terror in the area.
"For weeks, Riverlea residents have been complaining about zama zamas. I have been told that there was another shooting this weekend.“
The area has now become a war zone, with constant gunfire between zama zamas who are fighting each other. The police are doing nothing to assist the town, and the locals now live in constant fear. They are scared to leave their houses, especially at night when gangs of heavily armed illegal miners prowl the streets.
The latest incident comes after 21 bodies were discovered by the police following another shooting incident between illegal miners in November last year near an active mine in Krugersdorp, west of Johannesburg.
According to the police at the time, the incident was suspected to be due to a faction war between two groups of illegal miners.