- Minister Bheki Cele has called for the deployment of special police units to the West Rand.
- He wants specially trained officers to deal with heavily-armed illegal miners.
- The zama zamas are accused of committing heinous crimes in the area.
"These zama zamas are disrespectful. They came here illegally, go underground and take gold."
Police Minister Bheki Cele said these words while addressing an imbizo in West Village, Krugersdorp on Saturday.
"What tells them to go door-to-door to houses committing crimes?" Cele asked.
"We have never caught illegal miners carrying gold. Who is benefitting from this illegal gold?
"The time has arrived for zama zamas to tell us where they take their illegal gold ... Illegal mining is accompanied by human trafficking. Some are as young as 14."
Cele said it was the responsibility of the police to protect humanity, regardless of nationality.
He also assured all women who had been victimised in the area they would be provided with counselling.
Cele has asked deputy national police commissioner Tebello Mosikili to multiply forces on the ground.
He was responding to calls by residents that the army should be deployed to deal with illegal miners, some who are armed.
"We don't need soldiers to deal with illegal miners in West Village. Our officers are well trained. We have the Tactical Response Team. The TRT can do enough work to fix this place.
"We have the Special Intervention Unit and the Special Task Force that can also be unleashed here. I hope you won't complain to me to come and fetch those specialised units once I unleash them.
"It is painful when people complain about corrupt police officers. Most are doing their job. Unfortunately, a few are tarnishing the image of the entire police service. Police officers need to know they are the face of the nation. Police management must be tough on officers who don't take complaints about women seriously," he said.
He claimed he was worried about the state of women living in the area, especially the victims of rape and violent crimes.
"There are many victims of crime who need counselling. Some are dead walking. I am told that rape here has been turned into a hobby.
"We need a special team of detectives to deal with all reported rape cases reported here. We can't have a community that is forced into a curfew by criminals. Women and children must live free here. We must allow children to be children."
He assured residents the deployment of extra officers would give them peaceful nights.
"You have asked me to allow you to sleep in peace at night. We can do that. Once that is done, there won't be any reason to come back here. There is no community here. It is a prison," he concluded.
Mogale City Mayor Tyrone Gray has called for a commission of inquiry into illegal mining in the West Rand.
Gray said the government should spend resources on cracking the entire illegal mining chain.
"We are calling for a commission of inquiry. Chasing illegal miners is like chasing after the tail of the snake. We need to put more effort into the head of the snake.
"We need to understand the value chain of where the funds are going. We are eradicating all hotspots. We have also confiscated their mining equipment," Gray said.
He called for the Department of Minerals and Energy to collaborate with the West Rand community in rehabilitating old mines.