Ten people arrested in connection with zama zama killings

Police nabbed 10 zama zamas after nine of their own were found murdered in Gauteng.
Police nabbed 10 zama zamas after nine of their own were found murdered in Gauteng.
Image: Halden Krog

Police have arrested 10 zama zamas in connection with the stoning and killing of nine of their own in Matholesville, Roodepoort.

Police spokesperson Cpt Kay Makhubele said the 10 were arrested after the provincial commissioner Lt-Gen Elias Mawela assembled a team of investigators to follow up on information pertaining to the location of the suspects.

“On the arrival in the area, the Zama zamas started shooting at the police and police returned fire. Two suspects were shot and eight others were arrested. During the arrest two unlicensed firearms were recovered.The firearms will be sent to ballistic to determine if they were used in other crimes.,” Makhubele said.

He said police will also profile all the suspects to determine whether they are linked with other cases.

When Sowetan visited the area two weeks ago, several community members said that an angry group of illegal miners from Zimbabwe attacked their counterparts from Lesotho, leaving nine people dead on the streets.

They claimed that Zimbabwean nationals were behind the attack and were upset at being exploited by Lesotho nationals who were running a syndicate, having a stranglehold on the vast number of disused mine shafts in the area.

"This has been going on for a while. The Sotho guys have claimed that the mines are theirs and have taken them by force. Anyone who wants to work in those mines has to have their blessings and have to pay them R300 when they go underground and another R300 when they resurface," said the community member.

"Most of the time they even take whatever loot that the Zimbabweans come up with at gunpoint and force them to go back underground and work some more. These guys from Zimbabwe were fed up because they cannot work for themselves and are not making a living anymore."

Another community member said the Zimbabwean nationals gathered in numbers and attacked Lesotho nationals.

"They chased them all over Mathole and finally cornered them. There was a bit of a fight - we don't know how many of them there were - but the Sotho guys tried to fight back, but were outnumbered," said the community member.

He said they were hacked and stoned to death while residents ran into their homes to hide from the violent scenes unfolding before their eyes.

"These guys are violent by nature, but to see them meting out that sort of violence against each other in front of our children was scary. The government needs to get rid of these people because they are putting our lives in danger."