JOHANNESBURG – Gauteng police said on Wednesday that they had taken in for questioning a group of six men suspected to be involved in illegal mining gangsterism in Ekurhuleni areas of Benoni, Springs and Actonville.
Mining areas in Ekurhuleni have for years been plagued by illegal mining activities that go hand-in-hand with gangsterism as gangs of illegal miners try to mine and steal gold, as well as other precious minerals from each other.
Police spokesperson Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said the police surrounded and then arrested the six men, all foreign nationals, in an open field in Actonville as they were shooting at each other.
Dlamini says the police have seized five unlicensed firearms including a revolver and four pistols, adding that investigations are being conducted as the gangs might have been responsible for several murders of illegal miners and house robberies in these areas.
"The arrests and seizure came after police responded to a complaint of shooting between two rival groups known as Zama Zama in the viscinity of Dube Street in Actonvile yesterday afternoon.
"One illegal miner had already been injured while police confronted the group. He was taken to the Far East Rand hospital under police guard," Dlamini said.
"As police surrounded them, five handguns used during the gun battle were seized. Charges of attempted murder, possession of unlicensed firearms and illegal mining are being investigated. They are due to appear at the Benoni Magistrate Court tomorrow."
Dlamini said the police believed that the firearms confiscated were used by the rival gangs to attack each other. In January last year, seven bodies of suspected illegal miners, who were shot dead execution style, were found dumped in an open veld in Benoni.
The police are still continuing with investigations and the firearms will be taken for forensic testing to determine if they can be linked to the murders, he said.