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POLL | Will military and security intervention solve zama-zama 'crisis' in Krugersdorp?

02 August 2022 - 13:07
South Africans have demanded security forces address the scourge of illegal mining and criminality at abandoned mines.
South Africans have demanded security forces address the scourge of illegal mining and criminality at abandoned mines.
Image: Ziphozonke Lushaba

A large police and security contingent has visited the scene of a gang rape in Krugersdorp, as the community demands action against illegal mining and alleged criminality by zama-zamas (illegal miners).

Eight women were raped at a mine in the area on Thursday. The attack sparked anger and saw more than 80 undocumented suspects arrested in 24 hours in West Village. They are being held for contravening the Immigration Act.

The community complained about illegal miners for several months and their calls were amplified by South Africans calling for government and the military to intervene.

Police minister Bheki Cele was joined by a team consisting of tactical response, Hawks, Crime Intelligence, the K-9 unit, Gauteng Traffic Police, Sibanye-Stillwater mining security and private security.

Cele said abandoned mines had become a breeding ground for criminality and he had spoken to mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe to ensure the government responds to the illicit industry “so South Africans can live safely”.

“We refuse to co-govern with criminality. The state has to rise ... I'm happy that even the mining industry is working with government.”

Carte Blanche producer Graham Coetzee told 702 zama-zamas wield a lot of power in communities and calling in the military is not sustainable.

“My question is, if we do deploy the army to sort out the problem for a few months, what happens when they leave?”

ActionSA held a protest this week calling for military intervention to stop criminality in the area.

“Soldiers were brought in during the lockdown to keep us indoors. Government needs to make that decision and bring them here because it's clear police are not coping,” Johannesburg caucus leader Funzela Ngobeni said.

EFF leader Julius Malema said: “Where this rape happened, the police must go there with barricades and barricade the whole squatter camp, and get into each house and look for rapists, because if you hide rapists you are encouraging rape. We need a militant programme into that squatter camp.

“Let us confront the rapists, let us fight the rapists, and the time is now. There must be a unit to deal with violent crimes.”

The ANC Women's League has called for chemical castration for convicted rapists in response to the femicide and gender-based violence crisis.

“Allow the normal judicial processes to go through and if we discover that indeed there was a rape, and the verdict is that of guilt only, then we suggest there should be chemical castration of that person so it does not happen again. 

“It is a suggestion that was raised by the women's league at the last conference and rejected by conference. We are putting it forward again and we will see what happens,” said minister Lindiwe Sisulu.

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