Zama zamas nabbed after six months underground
A group of zama zamas who have allegedly spent the last six months underground at the Kusasalethu Gold Mine returned to the surface on Wednesday‚ only to be a nabbed by the police.
An informant who had been in constant communication with the group informed police that they had been underground since November 2016‚ said Captain Tlangelani Rikhotso.
“They were nabbed as they tried to make their way out of the mine just before midnight along with a security guard working at the mine‚” said Rikhotso.
He was alleged to have been accepting bribes from the illegal miners.
“In exchange‚ he allegedly promised to keep mum about the illegal activities taking place underground and further promised to offer protection to the illegal miners. The security guard was found with a substantial amount of money believed to have [been] paid by the suspects‚” said Rikhotso.
It was not immediately unclear how much loot the zama zamas had gathered in their months underground.
The group of six‚ aged between 24 and 35‚ would appear in the Carletonville Magistrate’s Court on Friday.
Earlier this month‚ Ian Cruickshanks‚ chief economist at the South African Institute of Race Relations‚ told the Sunday Times that zama zamas stemmed from the desperation amid the high unemployment rate.
“In the official mining companies‚ there are few opportunities and fewer immigrants‚ and therefore‚ there’s more desperation. They probably take on any opportunity they are offered no matter the risk factor‚” said Cruickshanks.
Police however‚ say they have been making strides in thwarting illegal activity at the mine.
“Since the beginning of the investigation into the illegal mining activities at Kusasalethu Gold mine in April 2017 to date‚ gold-bearing material to the value of R150‚400 has been seized and a total amount of R73‚000 in cash‚” said Rikhotso.
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