At least three shots were fired in Roodepoort this past Friday when the police and their various units, as well as the Metro police, launched a massive operation against illegal mining, reports the Roodepoort Record.
It kicked off at about 9am with heavily armed police quietly blocking all exits around the piece of land between Gustaf Street and Miles Stoker Road, awaiting the arrival of the Mounted Unit and a police helicopter. As soon as the helicopter arrived, more than a hundred police officers pounced on the various shafts used by the Zama Zamas (illegal miners).
At least three shots were fired as police arrested multiple fleeing Zama Zamas. A misunderstanding led to two groups of police going to different locations where illegal miners are active. Because of this and the illegal miners spotting the helicopter, they managed to escape arrest. Therefore the second phase of the operation could not be completed successfully.
Explosives, detonators and other equipment used for illegal mining were confiscated.
Colonel André Laing explained that the detonators imported from Brazil found their way to South Africa via Zimbabwe. He also said the illegal miners bought one stick of dynamite and one detonator for R25 from legal miners, who stole it from the mines where they were employed, but the Zama Zamas resold it to their ‘colleagues’ at R250 a set.
The police also searched the shacks next to Randfontein Road, where the illegal miners are known to hide, sleep and stash their equipment as well as gold powder. They made no arrests but did confiscate more equipment.
The operation came in the wake of two murders in the area last week. At first, police thought it was the usual crime, but their investigations showed that a new group of illegal miners have posted guards at the shaft openings and were charging others to enter. It is believed a dispute ensued between the different factions that led to the shooting and consequently the murders. The illegal miners are allegedly also robbing residents who use the veld as a thoroughfare.
The police have posted warnings at all the shafts to evacuate them before next Friday. The shafts will then be sealed, and those who remain inside will do so at their own peril.
– Caxton News Service