A few days ago, 15 illegal miners, popularly known as zama zamas, were killed in clashes between rival gangs in Grootvlei in Springs on the East Rand. Yesterday, five more bodies of illegal miners were recovered at an abandoned mine shaft in Benoni, also on the East Rand.
A week ago, at least one person was killed and four others injured in clashes between zama zamas in Mpumalanga. Most, if not all, these individuals are driven to this dangerous activity by poverty and joblessness. Illegal mining has created a complex new crime for which police seem to have no answer.
Cops appear to be unable to deal with underground massacres because they have not been trained to deal with such situations. It is clear deployment of specialised policing units to hot spots does not yield results. We need to supplement law enforcement with other innovative ways to end the slaughter. Perhaps government should consider regulating this type of mining.
This would go a long way towards eliminating organised crime, tax evasion and exploitation of the poor.