The bodies of seven men were found dumped next to the N12 westbound highway at the Putfontein off-ramp near Benoni on Thursday evening. They are believed to be linked to illegal mining activities in the area. According to Ekurhuleni Emergency Services spokesperson William Ntladi, they received a call at 20:10 on Thursday from a passerby who had made the gruesome discovery. "We found seven bodies - one person was burnt beyond recognition, while the other six sustained upper-body trauma to the chest and head."Ntladi confirmed that these were gunshot wounds. "Some of the victims were burnt as well, but they were identifiable." Emergency services were assisted by the SAPS and forensic pathologists, Ntladi said, and the bodies were removed by Friday morning."The SAPS is now investigating the matter." Ntladi said preliminary investigations indicated that the men had been killed at another location and that their bodies were then moved and dumped next to the freeway. "The murders might be related to illegal mining activities in the area. This is not the first incident that we have attended to in and around that area where illegal mining is very rife. But that will only be confirmed once investigations have been conducted," Ntladi said.Seven bodies of illegal miners found at Benoni Gold Mine East Rand. They were dumped near the N12. Gunshot wounds. pic.twitter.com/JwF659bFm8— Yusuf Abramjee (@Abramjee) December 26, 2019 Gauteng police said they were investigating the murders.According to police spokesperson Colonel Noxolo Kweza, they were still in the process of identifying the bodies. "It is suspected that the males might have been killed underground and might be part of the ongoing illegal mining activities," Kweza said. "Police are appealing to communities to assist [in identifying] the bodies, estimated to be aged between 30 and 40 years old. Possibilities of further additional charges cannot be ruled out at this stage."Anyone with information regarding the incident can contact the police anonymously on 08600 10111 or Captain Manetha from Provincial Organised Crime at 082 411 4677.