Four illegal miners have been shot dead and a police officer wounded after a shootout ensued between the two groups in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg on Thursday morning.

The shooting started the members of Ekurhuleni Metro Police and SAPS reacted to information about explosives which were being brought to the area for illegal mining.

“In an ensuing shoot-out between the police and illegal miners, four of the miners were fatally shot and 15 others arrested at an open field in Boksburg policing area,” says police spokesperson, Colonel Lungelo Dlamin in a statement.

Dlamini says when police confronted the illegal miners, they were shot at and they returned fire.

“A member of Ekurhuleni Metro police was also slightly wounded in the face and has been taken to the local hospital for treatment,” says Dlamini.

He says police will be patrolling the area whilst they are still searching for other firearms suspected to have been thrown into the water stream due the shooting incident.

The arrested suspects will be charged with cases of attempted murder, possession of illegal firearms and ammunition as well as illegal immigration as they are suspected to be Lesotho nationals. Cases of inquest will be opened for illegal miners that were fatally shot.