More than 80 people taken in for questioning after killing of nine zama zamas

Some of the illegal mining equipment seized by police during a raid on Matholesville, Roodepoort.
Some of the illegal mining equipment seized by police during a raid on Matholesville, Roodepoort.
Image: Supplied by SAPS.

Eighty-seven people have been taken in for questioning after the massacre of nine alleged illegal miners in Matholesville, Roodepoort, on Friday afternoon, Gauteng police said on Saturday.

The victims, who were stoned to death, allegedly by fellow zama zamas, were all Lesotho nationals.

According to police, their attackers are also apparently of Lesotho origin.

Police spokesperson Col Noxolo Kweza said the attackers had apparently accused the victims of “being involved in criminal activities which attract the police into their illegal mining operational space”.

The bodies of the victims were found lying in the streets of Matholesville barely 24 hours after Gauteng police commissioner Lt-Gen Elias Mawela together with his team conducted a raid in the area as part of Operation Okae Molao.

A 10th victim is still being treated in hospital.

Kweza said that a few hours after the killings, Mawela had summoned police officers from “different stations and units within the Johannesburg district and provincial office to hunt down the suspects and deal with all forms of criminality in Matholesville and the surrounding areas”.

“During the night operation, police took in 87 people for questioning and to establish if they are not wanted for any crimes,” Kweza said.

She added that the manhunt would continue until those responsible for the killings were located and arrested.

The provincial commissioner had directed that witnesses be taken into the witness protection programme for their safety, Kweza said.

“We condemn this barbaric attack and we will ensure we leave no stone unturned in making the people of Matholesville and Roodepoort feel safe. The suspects will be arrested as soon as possible and the police will not sleep until we find them,” Mawela said.

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