Some residents of Soul City, an informal settlement in Kagiso, west of Johannesburg, express a lack of confidence in how local police deal with zama zamas (illegal miners).
Three residents of the community have recounted similar accounts about how police are allegedly bribed on a regular basis by illegal miners.
A young woman staying in the area says women cannot move at night as they face a threat of being raped. She says the recent gang rape of young models who were shooting a music video is not the first such incident.
“We are living in fear, we can’t even go to buy bread at night because we live in fear of being attacked by illegal miners.”
Another resident, a male in his early twenties, claims to hear gunfire every night. He also alleges that someone is slain in the neighbourhood every week.
“This is a daily occurrence and we are not getting help. We want the government to take out foreigners because the police are not doing anything about that. Not a single weekend passes without someone being killed. When the sunsets, the guns go off, gun sounds are heard every day at Soul City.”
An Uber driver who also stays in Mqandashe hostel in Kagiso says they don’t trust local police because they don’t arrest illegal miners working in the abandoned mines located nearby.
“We see them driving up to the miners and chatting to them, but they just leave them there at the mines without arresting them.”
He adds, “These miners look like they are funded by people with money and a lot of resources.” “The weapons these miners use are not cheap. They use automatic rifles like AK47s, M16s and other serious machinery.”
According to some residents, the zama zamas bribe the cops to keep them out of the way of their illicit mining activities.
Below are images taken by SABC’s Dinilohlanga Mekuto from Thursday’s protest at Soul City, Kagiso:
Private security officials are also deployed in the area. One of the security guys says some of the weapons carried by the police during the raids cannot match up to the firepower of the combat machinery used by the zama zamas.
For now, calm has been restored in Soul City after a day of raids, protests, and closed roads by residents who say they are tired of living in fear in their community.
Heavy police presence
As the sun sets in Kagiso, there is a strong police presence. Many police officers have been stationed in the area. Two of the several SAPS vehicles stationed at Soul City are labeled as Cape Town vehicles. An officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity claims they came from Cape Town and have been stationed in Johannesburg since the shooting at Nomzamo settlement in Orlando East, Soweto, which killed 15 people.
Two suspected illegal miners have been arrested after locals lead a police contingent to what residents in the area call one of the Zama Zamas hiding spots.
The two suspects say they are not illegal miners, claiming they just came back from window shopping in Krugersdorp.
Two men have been apprehended, they say they are not #ZamaZamas. When asked where they are from they claim to be Zimbabweans. One says he has no official documents to be in SA whilst another says he is here legally. #sabcnews #Kagisoshutdown pic.twitter.com/dDPUrQH9dB
— BlackBallPen (@dinanodamano) August 4, 2022
Police give feedback on their operation so far, thanks community: Hasina Gori reports