Kagiso residents turn violent, assault people accused of illegal mining, crime

One person was killed when violence erupted in Kagiso when residents raided mine shafts in search of illegal mine workers they accuse of criminal activity.

The Thursday violence comes after a flyer sent out on Monday urged residents in Mogale City, the municipality under which Kagiso falls, to participate in a shutdown on 4 August. 

“As a community we are the ones who can close this illegal mining and get rid of crimes happening there,” it read.

Residents were angered when a film crew was robbed of its equipment and eight of the women gang raped a week ago in Krugersdorp. The police arrested more than 80 people who were charged with being in the country illegally. 

On Thursday, a crowd of more than 100 Kagiso residents barricaded a main road to the township, stopping cars from entering an area where alleged illegal miners were being held by residents and beaten.

In one street, about 13 alleged illegal miners lay on the ground with their hands tied behind their backs. They had been stripped naked and badly beaten and were surrounded by residents holding machetes, pagans and sticks.

“We are tired of you stealing from us!” shouted one resident as a police van approached and officers led the alleged illegal miners into the back. In the background a cloud of black smoke hovered over open ground where residents were chasing after fleeing miners.

A resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said people from Kagiso had gone into the mine shafts early in the morning because they felt they needed to take matters into their own hands. 

“There are about 10 fresh mine shaft holes in Soul City. We burnt tyres and those people still didn’t come out. When we went in, we found buckets, hammers, plenty of condoms, dustbins, machinery that they use and generators to light which we decided to burn,” he said.

“Some of those people were sleeping there and they have pots to cook showing that it’s their home.”

Deputy commissioner Lieutenant Tebello Mosikili said the police had struggled to prevent the violence unleashed against the alleged illegal miners.

“We were overwhelmed, we must admit, that when we were operating in some parts the other parts of the communities would move to other areas. That is where they encircled these people that were found lying on the ground and they were rescued, their lives were saved,” she said. 

Mosikili urged residents to work with the police to ensure that safety and security were restored to their township.

“We have been on the ground to try and arrest the situation to try and bring calm to the situation, to try and intervene where the community has information to follow up. That is why you have seen this week there were 80 people that appeared in court that were arrested with the assistance of the communities,” she said.

“I want to reassure the community that we are going to find ourselves among them because we are part of the communities. We want to see South Africans living their normal lives.”

Kagiso resident Kabelo Motlophe, who participated in the raids on the mine shafts, said the police had fired rubber bullets at them.

“The police must stop shooting at the residents so that we can do this in a peaceful manner,” he said, while also slamming residents who threw rocks at officers.

He said residents were angry about what they said was sharp increase in crime since the illegal miners, known as zama zamas, had started operating in the area.

“We are not happy, we are very sad and as you can hear there are ladies here who have been crying about issues of rape. One girl being raped by 10 guys is very bad and this has been occurring except this time it is worse,” he said. 

Another resident, Pinky Kekae, said police should do more to make Kagiso safer, recalling how the South African Defence Force (SANDF) had been deployed at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure that residents complied with lockdowns aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

“We wouldn’t be in this situation if they did their work. We had Covid and they brought in they brought in SANDF now we have this situation where we are raped; I am a victim of rape. It’s so painful and it’s dehumanising. You just become something other than yourself,” she said. 

“In the morning we were alone, we didn’t see any visible police, there was only us and a helicopter that was moving around. It was not marked so we did not know where it was coming from. We were on our own.”

Vigilante group Operation Dudula, which has targeted foreigners in many parts of South Africa, participated in Thursday’s raid by residents.

“The children we arrested are between 13 to 15 years old. Some cannot even remember their age. We need more of these operations; 39 illegal miners arrested in one night is not enough. It should have been 300, there’s more. Our country must be clean,” said Operation Dudula’s national secretary, Zandile Dabula, confirming that they would carry on with their clean-up on Friday.

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