Orkney – The provincial spokesperson for police in the North West province, Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone confirmed that thirty five (35) alleged illegal miners are arrested for attempted murder, causing an explosion, malicious damage to property and conspiracy to commit crime at the Lawrence Park shaft ventilation in Orkney, at the Matlosana Local Municipality.
“The arrests came after a group of approximately 300 illegal miners commonly known as “Zama Zamas” attacked and shot at the security officers and later the police in an attempt to forcefully provide food stuffs to their fellow illegal miners who were underground,” said Mokgwabone.
While the shooting took place at the scene at about 18:30, some illegal miners lost their lives.
Police officials found several food parcels and two firearms, at least four bodies were found in the bushes near Kanana Township.
According to Mokgwabone, the arrests and shooting incidents came after a decision by the mine management to clamp down on illegal mining activities by closing the ventilation shaft which the “zamazamas” had been using to enter and exit various shafts.
“Consequently, some of the illegal miners voluntarily and due to shortage of food and water, used explosives to open a hole and started to exit the shaft on Saturday, 02 October 2021. On Sunday, 3 October 2021, more than 500 had already exited the shaft,” said Mokgwabone.
It has also been confirmed that they were medically examined for dehydration before being released. Some were treated by paramedics while a few others were taken to hospital.
After some analysis, no member of the “Zama Zamas” managed to exit on Monday and Tuesday but on Wednesday afternoon 6 October 2021, they have managed to exit.
It was at this point that some illegal miners launched an attack which resulted in the deaths of their members.
Lieutenant General SelloKwena, who is the Provincial Commissioner of the North West province condemned the ‘carelessness’ of the alleged illegal miners and said that no amount of force will deter law enforcement to do their work.
The arrested suspects are expected to appear in the court of law soon.
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