Gauteng Premier Makhura calls for 'armed branches of the state' to 'deal with zama zamas'

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Gauteng Premier David Makhura.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura.
  • David Makhura has called for the deployment of all armed forces to fight illegal mining.
  • The Gauteng premier was addressing irate Kagiso residents.
  • He claimed illegal miners were contributing to the murder statistics in the province.

"We need the armed response of our state. We need to organise all the security capacity of our democratic state to respond in a way we have not done before.”

"Our country is ungovernable. The criminals have taken over."

Gauteng Premier David Makhura told this to residents of Kagiso, in the west of Johannesburg, during the second leg of an imbizo by Police Minister Bheki Cele.

Residents complained to government officials about rampant crime, which they blamed on illegal miners.

Some claimed that the government had let them down in fighting this criminality.

Others, including women, shared their fears of walking in the streets of Kagiso. 

They claimed that illegal miners were operating freely without any interference from the police.

Locals complained that the Kagiso police had failed to assist in fighting illegal mining in the community.

READ | Police forced into action as Kagiso residents go on warpath with zama zamas

"Illegal miners are giving us a problem in Gauteng. We have an illegal mining belt in the province. Illegal mining in the east of Gauteng emanates from Mpumalanga. The one in the West Rand spread from the North West and Free State provinces," Makhura said.

"We have a big problem of illegal mining as the country. As Gauteng, we have been fighting against this problem. We are not getting it right. Illegal miners need extraordinary measures.

"My predecessors have been battling against illegal mining. If we deal with it the way we have been, it will never end. However, our people are being perished," he said.

The premier claimed that the contribution of illegal miners to the provincial crime statistics was enormous.

"They kill each other using guns. They are gangsters fighting among each other. They also created their informal settlements. Before, they used to shoot at each other. They have now moved into communities.

'They are not joking. They carry high-calibre firearms'

"They are using guns against communities. MaRussia gang was driven from the east [of Gauteng] to the west. Another gang is called Mashona. These illegal miners come from three countries in the SADC," Makhura said.

He added that some of these criminals were wanted in their home countries, such as Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

"We must work with those countries. Some of them are ex-soldiers. They are military trained. Some were in the police force in their countries of origin.

"They are an armed force. They are not joking. They carry high-calibre firearms. We have been telling the police that we can’t deal with illegal miners like we have been dealing with it again.

He said:

They are gaining confidence. They are taking over people’s homes. This is a national security question. We need the armed response of our state. We need to organise all the security capacity of our state to respond in a way we haven’t done before.

Makhura said that the province was dealing with well-trained and organised criminals. 

"We need to see the visible force of our state. We have given the police minister our mandate. I am convinced that the minster must bring all the different armed branches of the state. We want to deal with zama zamas.

"I am worried about the safety of Gauteng residents. Zama zamas are huge contributors to violent crime in the country. They have moved beyond mining operations. They are stripping electricity infrastructure. They are interfering with underground infrastructure. The security of the state is at great risk."

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