30 'zama zamas' arrested

2009-11-03 08:25
Bloemfontein - Two workers at Pamodzi Mine and some 30 illegal miners have been arrested after agents infiltrated underground mining operations, Free State police said on Monday.

Police spokesperson Puleng Motsoeneng said "Operation Zama Zama" was launched over the weekend and was conducted by members of the Welkom Police Illegal Mining Task Team, recently set up to combat illegal mining in the Free State.

"The team that worked around the clock arrested two mine employees, two security men of Pamodzi Mine and Protea Coin Security, as well as 30 illegal immigrants from Lesotho and Zimbabwe."

Motsoeneng said three police agents went underground on Friday night at Shaft 9 of the Pamodzi Mine, pretending to be Zama Zamas (as illegal miners are known in the mining industry).

R8 000 to get into mine

She said the agents paid R8 000 at the security checkpoints and to mine employees who work as banks men - people who control the mine lift to the different levels underground.

"The three agents successfully gained entry to go underground together with another ten illegal immigrants, eight from Lesotho and two from Zimbabwe."

Motsoeneng said members of the Task Team recovered the R8 000 as well as some explosives when the group resurfaced.

She said information was followed up and police visited G-hostel in Thabong, where two rooms were searched.

"They arrested nine illegal immigrants from Lesotho and recovered three cap lamps, mine boots, mine belts, hard hats and a gold scale."

Police also searched two rooms in the Moeletsi hostel, in Thabong.

Six illegal immigrants, five from Lesotho and one from Zimbabwe were arrested and equipment confiscated.

Liquor, food confiscated

Motsoeneng said among items confiscated were liquor and sorghum beer, which the Zama Zamas believed could prevent TB, because there were possibilities of catching the disease underground.

A large amount of food was also seized which was believed would have been sold underground.

"Items like a loaf of brown bread are sold for R100, 1kg Morvite powder for R50 and a packet of cigarettes could cost up to R150."

Canned food could to go for R100, a lunch box for R250, a packet of peanuts for R150, dagga of about 10 grams could cost about R500 and 2 litres of sorghum beer about R1 000.

Motsoeneng said many of the food items confiscated were still in good condition and were donated to needy families, while others were donated to the SPCA.

- SAPA
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