Six foreign nationals linked to illegal mining and gangsterism in Ekurhuleni are expected to appear in court on Thursday.
Police spokesperson Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said the suspects were arrested in an open field in Actonville on Tuesday afternoon during a gun battle.
The men could be linked to illegal mining and gang battles that have been taking place in Benoni, Springs and Actonville.
"They were surrounded by the police in an open field in Actonville as they were shooting at each other. Police seized five unlicensed firearms, including a revolver and four pistols.
"Further investigations are being conducted if the gangs could have been responsible for several murders of illegal miners and house robberies in these areas," said Dlamini.
Rival zama zama groups
The arrests and seizure of weapons came after police responded to a complaint of shooting between two rival groups known as zama zamas along Dube Street in Actonville.
"One illegal miner had already been injured when police confronted the group. He was taken to the Far East Rand hospital under police guard. As police surrounded them, five handguns used during the gun battle were seized," he said.
The suspects are expected to appear in the Benoni Magistrate’s Court on charges of attempted murder, possession of unlicensed firearms and illegal mining.
Dlamini said they suspected that the firearms confiscated could have been used by the rival gangs to attack each other. Forensic examinations were underway.
In January 2018, police discovered seven decomposing bodies of suspected illegal miners in a veld near a mineshaft in Benoni. The victims had been shot.
In November 2017, four illegal miners were killed and 15 others arrested after a shootout with police in Boksburg, also along the eastern mining belt of Johannesburg.