We are under siege, says Lesufi of illegal mining activities

A specialised unit within the SA Police Service must be formed to combat illegal mining, according to Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi.

“We are under siege. We are using outdated law-enforcement mechanisms in a new era that needs new forms of law enforcement. We have to overhaul our law-enforcement response, Lesufi said.

The premier was speaking at Angelo informal settlement in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg on Thursday evening, where at least 17 people were killed by a gas cylinder leak on Wednesday night.

A further 11 people have been hospitalised, some of them in a critical condition.

Lesufi condemned the illegal mining and other forms of crime taking place at the informal settlement, saying support will be given to affected families.

“We want as national government, provincial government and local government to extend our sincere condolences to all the families that have been affected. It’s a tragic event,” the premier said.

“We have learnt from the previous incident and our systems … this time, were on par and they responded the way we advised them.

“We are strongly monitoring the situation and we keep our eye on it. We have asked our experts to remain here [in the informal settlement].

“This thing of illegal mining is completely out of control. I am of the view that we need a specialised way of training our law enforcement.

“They [the police] try … [but] the firepower of the illegal miners and the resources that police have are not at the level that they can confront these things.”

He added that the police are doing their best to combat illegal mining but, he noted, the service needs to be further capacitated.

“We need firepower from technology and from the air. If people get out of those illegal mines, we need to be able to pick them up and we need to know where these activities are taking place.

“We can’t do that with the naked eye or the resources that we have.”


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