87 suspected illegal miners abandon bail as court hears they are in SA illegally
The case against 87 alleged illegal miners, “zama-zamas”, has been postponed in the Orkney magistrate's court to January 2022.
It emerged in court that all the accused were in SA illegally.
North West National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Henry Mamothame said due to the serious nature of the case the state applied for it to be transferred to the regional court for trial. The postponement was to allow for this to happen and for further investigation.
The accused face charges of attempted murder, illegal possession of prohibited firearms and ammunition, illegal possession of gold, theft and conspiracy to commit an offence. They were allegedly operating at a shaft in Orkney.
Mamothame said all the suspects abandoned their bail applications as they were verified to be in the country illegally.
“The status verification of the miners was completed and it was established in their previous court appearance that they all had no legal documents to be in the country,” he said.
TimesLIVE reported that eight of the suspects were wounded and six shot dead during a shoot-out with police during an intelligence-driven operation on October 20.
Mamothame said of the eight wounded during the shoot-out, two are still under police guard receiving medical attention.
“The court proceeded again in their absence. Police reports revealed that from this operation a number of items were discovered, including two mini-buses, illegal mining paraphernalia, gold-bearing material, 11 illegal firearms (3 x shotguns, 3 x rifles, 4 x pistols and 1 x revolver) and bags of food.”
Mamothame said the suspects will remain in police custody until their next court appearance.
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