6 killed in standoff between zama zamas and mine security guards in North West

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Six alleged illegal miners were killed and 35 were arrested following an attack on security guards at a North West mine.
Six alleged illegal miners were killed and 35 were arrested following an attack on security guards at a North West mine.
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  • Six suspected illegal miners have been shot dead in Orkney, North West.
  • The shooting took place during an attack on security guards at the mine.
  • The attack was prompted by mine management closing a ventilation shaft used as an access point by illegal miners.

Police have been placed on high alert in Orkney in North West where six suspected illegal miners have been killed and 35 more were arrested after an attack on security guards at a mine.

On Wednesday, more than 30 people were arrested on charges of attempted murder, causing an explosion, malicious damage to property and conspiracy to commit a crime, said police spokesperson Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone.

The attack came after a group forcefully tried to access the property to provide food to alleged illegal miners working underground.

Illegal miners were reportedly using a ventilation shaft to enter and exit various shafts, and the mine management had decided to close it to prevent further illegal mining, Mokgwabone said.

This effectively stopped the supply of foodstuffs and water to underground miners, and some attempted to create a hole with explosives on Saturday. On Sunday, more than 500 people had already exited the shaft.

Confrontation with security guards

More alleged illegal miners exited the shaft on Wednesday afternoon, which led to a confrontation with mine security guards.

"The arrests came after a group of approximately 300 illegal miners, commonly known as 'zama zamas', attacked and shot at the security officers and later the police in an attempt to forcefully provide foodstuffs to their fellow illegal miners who were underground," said Mokgwabone.

A shooting took place at around 18:30 and saw six alleged illegal miners killed.

Mokgwabone said:

Four bodies were found in the vicinity of the shaft. One was found approximately 800 metres from the crime scene, while the sixth was found in the bushes near Kanana location. Several food parcels and two firearms were found at the crime scene.

The matter has been reported to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).

The arrested suspects are expected to appear in court soon, and the Hawks have taken over the investigation.

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