- A group of suspected zama zamas were spotted entering Denver on Thursday night.
- The men are believed to have fled from the West Rand where residents said they don’t want illegal miners in the area anymore.
- Gauteng police say they are aware of the areas engulfed with illegal mining and are attending to the matter.
A group of men suspected to be illegal miners were spotted entering Denver in the east of Johannesburg on Thursday night, apparently going into hiding following violent protests that rocked Kagiso.
On Thursday morning, residents of Kagiso, west of Johannesburg, went on the rampage scouring mine dumps in the township looking for zama zamas.
The enraged residents stripped and whipped men they found in mine dumps in the area, then handed them to police, who later said all of them were in South Africa illegally.
It is believed that the Kagiso community’s actions caused the suspected illegal miners to flee to Denver.
The owner of a manufacturing company about 100 metres from the area suspected of being used for illegal mining said security guards noticed groups of people arriving.
“A group of people arrived in the area around 15:00 and 16:00. More came at night. It looks like they are running away from somewhere else and coming here because it’s a quiet area and a safe zone,” said the owner who asked to remain anonymous.
The group is now hiding with other zama zamas who have been there for a long time, he said.
The man added that there had been a spike in illegal mining activities in the area.
“When we relocated our company here in around 2010, I noticed minor activities on the surface. As the years went by, things became more intensive, and we saw more people and heaps of sand pilling up on the ground. They have started going further underground,” he said.
“Just three weeks ago, I fenced the area to prevent anyone from going in, but two nights later, half of the fence was stolen.”
He also said the illegal miners had started using dynamite in the past six months for blasting underground.
The man said the landowner was made aware of the illegal activities in the area and was given a chance to close the open holes the miners had made, but did nothing and has since disappeared.
“There are about 200 people here on the ground, and they are operating behind a building. Everybody knows about it, but nobody is doing anything.”
Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Brenda Muridili said they knew where illegal mining was happening, and the police were attending to the matter.
“Denver is part of the Johannesburg district. Currently, the provincial police commissioner (Lieutenant General Elias Mawela) is on the ground with the team in Matholeville where they are busy clamping down on illegal mining. We do this for our weekly anti-crime campaign ‘Operation Okae Molao’,” said Muridili.
She added: “When we arrest these people, we do not arrest them for illegal mining, but for charges related to the minerals they will be found with. We also charge those who are illegal in the country for contravention of the Immigration Act.”