South Africa: Police discover bodies of 19 drowned illegal miners

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 3 (NNN-ALLAFRICA) — Gauteng police have confirmed that bodies of 19 suspected zamazamas (illegal miners) have been discovered in Krugersdorp, a mining town west of Johannesburg.

Sources on the scene said that the men drowned while working in the mines and their bodies were retrieved from the water by other zamazamas — which means “those who try their luck” in Zulu — who informed the police about the incident.

The source said that when the authorities arrived at the scene, the bodies had already been removed from the mine.

Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Brenda Muridili said the Krugersdorp police are investigating the deaths of the zamazamas.

“The Police in Gauteng can confirm that on 2 November 2022 at about 15:00, members from SAPS Krugersdorp responded to a call following the discovery of 19 bodies of alleged illegal miners in one of the active mines in the area.”

Brigadier Muridili said preliminary investigations suggest that the deceased were moved to the place where they were discovered.

No foul play is suspected at this stage and post-mortems will determine the cause of death.

“All the necessary role players were summoned to the scene. An inquest docket has been registered for further investigation,” said Brigadier Muridili.

Zamazamas working in Krugersdorp have been making headlines recently.

In July, 20 zamazamas allegedly robbed and gang raped eight women who were part of a gospel music video shoot.

Police descended on the area and arrested several zamazamas, claiming that they were cleaning the area of illegal miners.

In September, the police ministry said it was encouraged by the great strides made in improving the safety and security of residents in Krugersdorp since the deployment of specialised SAPS units to the area, curbing illegal mining.

In October, rape charges against the 14 men arrested in connection with the gang rape were withdrawn in the Krugersdorp Magistrate’s Court when it was found that the DNA evidence taken from the suspects did not implicate them.

The withdrawal of the charges caused widespread national outrage, particularly at the incompetence with which the police handled the case.