/ 21 February 2024

Illegal miners arrested this week have not been linked to M1 highway robbery, police say

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On Tuesday, motorists were robbed at gunpoint at the Crown Interchange during peak Johannesburg traffic. (Supplied)

Police have confirmed that eight suspected illegal miners were arrested following a mass robbery targeting motorists on a gridlocked Johannesburg highway on Tuesday, but have not linked them to the crime.

“We can’t confirm that the eight suspects arrested yesterday in Germiston are directly linked to the incident on the M1 freeway,” Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) spokesperson Xolani Fihla said in a statement.

On Tuesday, police received distressed calls from motorists stuck in peak-hour traffic near the Crown Interchange on the highway that men with firearms were robbing vehicles at gunpoint.

In a widely circulated voice note, a distressed motorist can be heard describing the scenes on the highway.

“Please send emergency vehicles, people are being terrorised in their cars.”


“Five guys are walking around with 9mm [pistols] in their hands, literally robbing car after car. It’s a mess. People are overreacting, they’re crashing their cars into the barrier lane because they’re scared of being robbed in their cars. Please send emergency vehicles, people are being terrorised in their cars.” 

Police said upon their arrival at the scene, the suspects fled on foot into a nearby illegal shaft. A tactical response unit was sent to search for the suspects and a shootout broke out. 

The eight suspects were arrested near Main Reef Road and Shamrock Street in Primrose, Germiston.

“When backup from the South African Police Service (SAPS) Primrose, flying squad and air wing arrived, the officers entered the open veld area where they found one male lying on the ground with a wound and a rifle next to him. The officers apprehended a further seven suspects,” said Fihla.

Police are urging motorists who were victims of Tuesday’s robbery to report the incident to assist in the verification process.

“No case has been opened and we are calling on all the victims and witnesses of the alleged crime to come forth to register cases to assist the police with investigations”, SAPS spokesperson, Colonel Dimakatso Nevhuhuli told the Mail & Guardian.

In a video statement, Johannesburg member of the mayoral committee for public safety Mgcini Tshwaku said freeway patrol and JMPD would be stationed across major crime hotspots in Johannesburg for the safety of motorists.

“We are making sure that there is a JMPD crew stationed at these hotspots where you find that there is a bridge and access to the roads so that you don’t have people who can easily access the road,” said Tshwaku.

The JMPD said there was no truth to reports of motorists being robbed again at the same spot on Wednesday morning. 

Tuesday’s incident occurred a day after Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi said in his State of the Province address on Monday that law enforcement was winning the war against illegal miners in the province.