Africa-Press – South-Africa. Scores of protesters from different political parties gathered outside the Krugersdorp Magistrate’s Court in Gauteng on Wednesday, for the expected court appearance of 80 people who were arrested for various offences in a police blitz.
The police operation followed after the rape of eight women on a mine dump. To date, no one among the arrested suspects has been directly linked to the incident.
Some of the men have been charged with being in the country illegally. DNA samples have been taken to determine if they were linked to the rapes.
Members of the ANC, DA and ActionSA protested outside court.
The protesters sang songs and held placards reading “Hands off our Women”, and “Stop Rape”.
“We came here to join the picket line and communicate a clear message that we now need to go out and reclaim the streets of our communities. We can no longer allow criminals, illegal immigrants and rapists to roam around our streets without any action,” said the ANC’s Pule Mabe.
“What happened here in Krugersdorp over the past week should serve as a wake-up call. We need our government to act [and] work with speed to deal with this issue of zama zamas (illegal miners), illegal immigrants, and illegal mining,” he added.
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Mabe said the government should also compel mining companies to rehabilitate abandoned mines.
“There are also environmental issues that affect our communities out there, and the dumps have been captured by criminals.
“Also, there are people who want to turn South Africa into a playground… the things that they are not doing in their own countries. If you allow people to continue conducting illegal activities unattended, they then undermine your ability to function and govern,” Mabe said.
The DA’s Gail Mphafudi, Mogale City MMC for health and social development, said they came to support the eight victims who were raped last week.
“We are here to support the women to say ‘No to gender-based violence’, because we are seeing it is becoming a thing in SA, and it is unacceptable.
“We are here today to support them to say that we stand with them against children and women abuse and gender-based violence,” Mphafudi said.
Mphafudi said illegal mining was a big problem on the Gauteng West Rand that was affecting infrastructure.
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“You don’t even feel safe in your home because there might be a tremor that might lead to your house breaking down, so it is a health risk on its own.
“It also poses a risk to people’s lives because they are getting shot at and there is so much violence around zama zamas.”
She said Mogale City Mayor Tyrone Gray was working closely with law enforcement to deal with the issue.
Most of the accused were from Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. During the men’s first appearance on Monday, the court heard that they were only facing charges of being in the country illegally. Some of them had previously been arrested on the same charge. They were deported but had returned.
Twenty of the accused were juveniles, and their cases were transferred to the Children’s Court.