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UPDATE | Inquest launched after 20 ‘zama zamas’ found dead and wrapped in plastic bags

15 June 2021 - 16:53 By shonisani tshikalange
Police said five bodies were found on Monday and another 15 on Tuesday. Stock photo.
Police said five bodies were found on Monday and another 15 on Tuesday. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Paul Fleet

Twenty bodies believed to be those of illegal miners were discovered just outside Klerksdorp in the North West this week.

Police spokesperson Brig Sabata Mokgwabone said five bodies were found at about 7pm on Monday evening in the vicinity of Orkney. Another 15 bodies were discovered on Tuesday afternoon.

The bodies were found wrapped in white plastic bags.

Mokgwabone said police have opened inquest dockets after the unidentified male bodies were discovered. According to police, the men suffered severe burns to their bodies.

As part of investigations, said Mokgwabone, postmortems would be conducted to determine the causes of death.  

Mokgwabone said the first five bodies were found at about 7pm on Monday outside an old and unused mine shaft ventilation in Lawrence Park, Orkney. He said the next day, 14 more decomposed bodies were found along Ariston Road near the railway line in Orkney.

“While processing the scene, police received information that another body was discovered where the initial five bodies were found, bringing a total number to 20,” said Mokgwabone.

He said all the deceased were suspected to be illegal miners, commonly known as “zama zamas”, operating in obsolete shafts in the area.

“Investigations into the matter continues and include the possibility of linking the incidents with ae video circulated on social media platforms in which a man calling himself ‘Mafifi’ was seen pleading for assistance following an apparent smoke inhalation occurrence at shaft number six,” he said.

The police are requesting anyone who may have information regarding the incidents to call Col Gaanakgomo at 082 568 5975 or the police Crime Stop number 08600 10111.

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