Cele back in Riverlea as police scramble to flush out zama zamas

Police Minister Bheki Cele returns to Riverlea on the west of Johannesburg on Friday for an engagement with the community.

The minister’s visit forms part of efforts to fight against illicit mining activities that have left the residents living in fear.

Cele will give a update on the police’s response to ongoing illicit activities.

This after police spokesperson Brigadier Brenda Muridili said on Thursday that the police have arrested more than 100 suspects between Tuesday and Thursday.

On Thursday, the special task force, national intervention unit, TRT, and Tactical Vision security guards descended on the area with a police helicopter hovering above.

Among others, they raided the informal settlement where nine suspected illegal miners were nabbed.

While the heightened police operations continue, illegal firearms and ammunition, stolen property, explosives, gas cylinders and other apparatus commonly used during illegal mining activities have been recovered and confiscated.

A group of community members pointed out to the police the shacks where they believe illegal mining activities took place.

Muridili said: “We received information earlier today that zama zamas have opened one or two holes that we closed on Wednesday.

“We suspect that they had gone underground using those reopened holes. Our units are monitoring the holes.

“Last night, there was a shooting in the same area. From the Wednesday shootout, we arrested 11 suspects.”

The deployment followed a protest by members of the community against illegal mining activities in the area.

Hell broke loose at the weekend when warring factions of illegal miners turned the area into a war zone, resulting in the deaths of five people.

The unidentified men’s bodies were found dumped next to the main road in the area on Sunday morning.


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