Bomb-throwing miners arrested in police raids

Khanyisile Nkosi and Sapa

Khanyisile Nkosi and Sapa

It took hard training and special equipment for the police to arrest illegal miners allegedly working for a syndicate that deals in gold.

Police Director Sally De Beer said six operations had taken place in the Randfontein and Welkom areas over six months, ending in September.

De Beer said the police had been approached by security companies to help them deal with gold smugglers, known as zamas.

For months, groups of illegal miners live underground, digging for gold for the syndicate, which then sells it. Food and drink are smuggled to the men by legitimate miners.

The illegal miners were armed with home-made bombs, which they did not hesitate to use against security guards who tried to arrest them.

But they ran out of luck when police pounced on them in September. Fully trained and armed with equipment specially designed for the operation, the police arrested 60 men at various mines.