Benoni residents living in fear following death of 14 illegal miners

2017-03-07 17:57
Police remain on high alert after 14 bodies were found in Benoni. (YouTube screen grab)

Police remain on high alert after 14 bodies were found in Benoni. (YouTube screen grab)

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Johannesburg - The roads are narrow and dusty, and the open fields are surrounded by tall trees with mine dumps in the background.

This beautiful landscape leads to a crime scene. Next to a small bridge and a stream, a passer-by found the bodies of eight illegal miners in Unity Street, in New Modder, on the East Rand, on Monday.

The bodies of another six illegal miners were found next to a railway line, about 2km away, on Sunday.

Gang rivalry was believed to have been the motive behind the killings, police said.

It appeared the victims were either stabbed to death or shot before their bodies were dumped. It was not known where they were killed.

People living near where the bodies were found say they are living in fear. One resident, who asked to remain anonymous, told News24 on Tuesday that they are traumatised.

“It is not right what was happening in the area. I stay around here and don’t want to give people any idea that I am involved with the zama-zamas,” he said, referring to the name commonly used for illegal miners.

The man stood outside his gate, a few metres from where the eight bodies were found. He said he only realised how serious it was when police showed up.

A few other residents in the area refused to speak to the media out of fear of the zama-zamas.

“These are dangerous people. They are armed and I don’t want to say anything about them,” one resident said.

Meanwhile, the DA expressed its condolences to the families and relatives of the 14 illegal miners.

“It is indeed a tragic story of the forgotten, the marginalised and the excluded men and women who work the mines in the hope of a better tomorrow,” DA Gauteng community safety spokesperson Michele Clarke said.

She called for urgent intervention before more lives were lost to gang rivalry on mines in the province.

“Communities are endangered through these battles and children are kept out of school and at home for their safety,” Clarke said.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime

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