Community flees zama-zamas' terror

Soul City informal settlement near the Tudor Shaft informal settlement in Kagiso, on the West Rand, have been gripped by fear since the discovery of the bodies.
Soul City informal settlement near the Tudor Shaft informal settlement in Kagiso, on the West Rand, have been gripped by fear since the discovery of the bodies.
Image: 123RF/ fesenko

Terrified residents of an informal settlement that is being terrorised by illegal miners are fleeing for their lives, following the discovery of two bodies last week.

Soul City informal settlement near the Tudor Shaft informal settlement in Kagiso, on the West Rand, have been gripped by fear.

In the first case, police said three illegal miners were arrested for the murder of Meisi Maisha, 18, a grade 12 pupil at Mafaesa Secondary School.

She had gone missing about a week ago. Her severely assaulted body, with her eyes gouged out and brain removed, was discovered by a passerby on Thursday last week.

The second body, which police said was decomposed, was discovered in the same area and it is suspected that illegal miners are behind this murder as well.

Gauteng police spokesperson Capt Kay Makhubele said police would investigate if the three suspects in Maisha's case are not linked to other crimes in the area.

"We will get to the bottom of this. The illegal miners are suspects as the dead people have been found in their territory," Makhubele said.

Kagiso police station commander Brig Themba Maduna said police have a challenge in the area because of illegal miners who have allegedly turned the area into a high rape, robbery and murder zone.

Maduna said the decomposed body was found near the shaft, indicating it had been there for long.

"At this stage, it can't be confirmed whether it is male or female. It has been sent for pathological analysis," he said.

Maisha's mother, Bongi, said she prayed for her daughter's killers to be apprehended.

"I have been praying for my daughter's safe return ever since she went missing on Saturday [July 20]. We called her friends and other family members with no luck and that is when we decided to file a case of a missing person."

She said she could not believe it when she saw the body of her last-born daughter being dumped at one of the unused mine shafts in the area.

"I suspect that the perpetrators got a tip-off that police were bringing sniffer dogs and they went to dump her body in that shaft," Maisha senior said. Her daughter will be buried in Limpopo.

A community member Cecilia Mabhena said community members feared for their lives.

"Some of our neighbours have started moving to their friends and relatives who stay in the township.

"I sleep with a knife and a pepper spray under my pillow because I fear for my safety and I am prepared to die protecting my children," she said.

On Monday, Sowetan reported how people were fleeing violence and reprisals at West Village, another informal settlement on the West Rand. It was reported that three people were killed while five others were taken to hospitals.

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