Residents of Soul City, an informal settlement in Kagiso, Johannesburg, have vowed to take the law into their own hands in attempts to rid the community of the terror allegedly perpetrated by illegal miners situated at a mine dump nearby.
During shutdown operations in the area on Thursday, community members told City Press that the police had failed to act against illegal miners who commit crimes in the community.
Sthembile Mokoena said women in the area were not safe, alleging that the illegal miners commit rape and murder.
City Press witnessed an angry mob destroying what they believed was a refinery used by the illegal miners.
“They turned this mine dump into their own village. This is where they keep their guns, which they use to rob community members returning from work in the evenings. Members of our community policing forum were shot at in the early hours of the morning today,” said Thabo Molusi, head of the forum.
He added that the police had failed to act on tip-offs because they allegedly receive kickbacks from the miners.
“It is clear that the police at Kagiso Police Station are benefitting heavily from the zama zamas. We have cases of rape and murder which just disappear without being investigated,” Molusi said.
Roads in the area were barricaded with burning tires and rocks, and community leaders instructed businesses to stop operating.
NOT ALL RESIDENTS AGREE
Car wash owner Thabo Selome said although he was sympathetic to the cries of the community, he had suffered financial setbacks as a result of the protests, which hinder his ability to provide for his family.
“I don’t agree that taking the law into our own hands is the solution, but we should work together with law enforcement to try and solve the problem,” he said.
Selome said that government should rather open up mining opportunities for communities.
“We have a serious problem of unemployment in this country, and instead of fighting, we should focus on getting the skills necessary to establish our own legal mines,” he said.
On Wednesday, Police Minister Bheki Cele, accompanied by the tactical response team, the flying squad, the K-9 unit and the Hawks, spent the day raiding mine dumps in the Krugersdorp area after eight women were gang raped last week. The women were targeted by alleged zama zamas while filming a music video. The film crew was also robbed.
Almost 90 suspects have been arrested. None of those apprehended have been linked to the rapes, but DNA analysis is being carried out.
Cele said they would be concentrating on illegal operations in Gauteng, Free State, Limpopo, North West and Mpumalanga, which the minister said had serious problems of illegal mining..
“What we don’t need to do now [is] to stop; we need to keep rolling with these operations in these four problematic provinces.”