Some residents of Soul City, an informal settlement in Kagiso, west of Johannesburg, express a lack of confidence in the way local police deal with zama zamas (illegal miners).
Three residents of the community told similar stories of how police are regularly bribed by illegal miners.
A young woman residing in the area says that women cannot move around at night because they risk being raped. She says the recent gang rape of young models who were shooting a music video is not the first such incident.
“We live in fear, we can’t even go and buy bread at night because we live in fear of being attacked by illegal miners.”
Another resident, a man in his twenties, claims to hear gunshots every night. He also alleges that someone is killed in the neighborhood every week.
“It’s a daily occurrence and we don’t get any help. We want the government to get the foreigners out because the police aren’t doing anything about it. Not a single weekend goes by that someone doesn’t As the sun goes down, the gunshots go off, the sounds of gunfire are heard every day in Soul City.
An Uber driver who also stays at the Mqandashe hostel in Kagiso says he doesn’t trust the local police because they don’t arrest illegal miners working in nearby abandoned mines.
“We see them driving up to the miners and talking to them, but they just leave them there in the mines without arresting them.”
He adds: “These miners look like they are funded by people who have money and a lot of resources. “The weapons that these miners use are not cheap. They use automatic rifles like AK47s, M16s and other serious machines.
According to some residents, the zama zamas bribe the cops to keep them away from their illicit mining activities.
Below is footage taken by SABC’s Dinilohlanga Mekuto during Thursday’s protest in Soul City, Kagiso:
Private security agents are also deployed in the area. One of the security guys says that some of the weapons carried by the police during the raids cannot match the firepower of the combat machines used by the zama zamas.
For now, calm has returned to Soul City after a day of raids, protests and road closures by residents who say they are tired of living in fear in their community.
Strong police presence
As the sun sets in Kagiso, there is a heavy police presence. Many police officers have been stationed in the area. Two of the many SAPS vehicles parked in Soul City are labeled as Cape Town vehicles. An officer who spoke on condition of anonymity says they were from Cape Town and had been stationed in Johannesburg since the shooting at the Nomzamo settlement in Orlando East, Soweto, which killed 15 people.
Two suspected illegal miners were arrested after locals led a police contingent to what locals call one of Zama Zamas’ hideouts.
Both suspects claim they are not illegal miners, claiming they have just been 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 South Africa while another says he is here legally. #sabcnews #Kagisosshutdown pic.twitter.com/dDPUrQH9dB
— BlackBallPen (@dinanodamano) August 4, 2022
Police give feedback on operation so far, thank community: Hasina Gori reports