Slovoville community live in fear amid mining gang wars
Share this article:
Johannesburg – The community of Slovoville, near Dobsonville in Soweto, say ’gangs’ fighting territorial battles over gold, have turned their area into a war zone.
The police have arrested four suspects in connection with the murder of several men believed to be illegal miners who were involved in a gang war for mining territory and gold.
The arrests follow a police raid of a compound in Slovoville that is believed to be housing many illegal miners involved in gang activity in the area, on Monday night. The suspects engaged in a shootout with the police officers but the police were able to take control of the situation and take them in.
Among other things that police found while raiding the vicinity was a baboon. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) was called in to take the animal. The suspects believed to be Lesotho nationals, also had getaway cars.
Gauteng police spokesperson Mavela Masondo said the men were charged with murder and attempted murder for engaging in a shoot out with the police. Masondo said police were still investigating the matter and could not say when the men would appear in court.
“They will be charged with the murders that took place over the weekend and attempted murder because of the shoot-out between themselves and the officers,” Masondo said.
Meanwhile, the community of Slovoville said they have had enough of the ’mining gangs’ who would often have gun fights in broad daylight. Residents said the area had become akin to the “wild wild west”.
Community members were scared to talk to The Star because of fears that the gangs would victimize them. Those who were brave enough to speak said that they feared that their children would get hurt in the crossfire of the gang fights.
The running battles have left the elderly in Slovoville shocked and scared. Some have even spoken about moving away from the area which is close to Harmony Gold Mine.
“We have children, we are so scared. If we had an option we would move away from this area but the concerning thing about these people is that when they fight they just do it in daylight and it looks like a movie,” a resident, who did not want to be identified, said.
They blamed the mines for allowing the illegal miners to takeover a compound where they are believed to be living.
Harmony Gold spokesperson Mashego Mashego told The Star that their mine near Slovoville was still operational. He denied that their property had been taken over by illegal miners.
“It is true that mining communities suffer because of illegal mining and related crime such as bribery, violence against workers and management, and child labour. We have programmes in place to pro-actively mitigate and manage the impact of illegal mining at our operations. Increased security intelligence is being used to combat illegal mining,” Mashego said.
The gangs are identified by the Basotho blankets which they wear. One group wears yellow and the other wears red. It is believed that the fights stem from an underground territorial war in which the illegal miners fight for their mining space. In some instances the fights were caused by some of the gangs robbing one another of gold and survival tools.
The community also complained that the nearest police station is in Snake Park which is more than 15km away. They said in most instances crime was not reported in the area because people could not reach the police station.
The gangs have become known for their music, and it has become common knowledge in the community that when certain songs are played loud near the compound, a gun fight was about to erupt.