‘We are prisoners in our own country’ – Munsieville residents scour hills for zama zamas

'We are prisoners in our own country' – Munsieville residents scour hills for zama zamas
'We are prisoners in our own country' – Munsieville residents scour hills for zama zamas

Africa-Press – South-Africa. The residents of Munsieville, on the West Rand, have embarked on a mission to flush out illegal miners in their area.

Armed with sticks, knobkieries and other items, the community went into two shafts at a nearby mountain, to search for zama zamas, a slang term for illegal miners.

“We have been terrorised by these zama zamas, the ones that come to our country and want us to be under oppression. We are prisoners in our own country and land.

PICS | Police pounce on zama zama compound in Krugersdorp during illegal mining clampdown

“We have been trying to find them, but to no avail. We know that they are going to retaliate, and we know that their retaliation is going to be very harsh, so that is our fear right now,” a resident, Christina Tahiti, told News24.

The call to remove illegal miners in the area followed shortly after residents of Kagiso, about 15 kilometres away, embarked on a similar operation on Thursday.

Scores of Kagiso residents took the law into their own hands when they combed mine dumps to search for illegal miners.

Residents also claimed that some police officers were in cahoots with the illegal miners and were taking bribes.

On Friday, the mayor of Mogale City, Tyrone Gray, said he had to intervene in Kagiso to prevent the community from “necklacing” a suspected illegal miner.

“We reject all forms of vigilantism… what we do want is a peaceful, well-ordered operation. We will only restrain people and not undertake any violent beatings or cause loss of life. We also reject retaliation strikes by some of these foreign nationals on the residents of Mogale City because, at the end of the day, we simply want to uphold law and order.”

Gray conceded there had been years of neglect by law enforcement.

“It is definitely years and years of neglect, and the current administration, led by the DA, is committed to addressing these backlogs and ensuring the safety of the community.

“We can all point fingers, but it is better to unite, so that we can have a holistic programme of safety and security,” Gray said.

The ward councillor for Munsieville, Moagaesi Mosala, said it seemed the illegal miners in the area had received a tip-off and fled.

“But we know and can see there are recent holes that were dug. Crime in Munsieville is very high; we have a challenge here of undocumented or illegal immigrants in our country.

“I hope that this operation can be done regularly, so that we can get rid of the illegal immigrants and get our lives back.”

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