POLL | Can SANDF take down zama zamas in six months?

09 November 2023 - 12:30
The spotlight is on the deployement of SANDF members to tackle illegal mining.
Image: SAPS The spotlight is on the deployement of SANDF members to tackle illegal mining.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s deployment of 3,300 South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members to help police combat illegal mining has been welcomed. However, there are concerns their six-month deployment might not be enough.

Ramaphosa wrote to National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and chair of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Amos Masondo last week to inform them of the army's deploymentThis comes months after communities called for such action as illegal mining operations turned deadly. In July, five zama zamas were killed in an attack in Riverlea, Johannesburg, believed to be the result of a turf war among the illegal miners. 

Jerusalem informal settlement near Florida Lake in Roodepoort has also experienced shootings between zama zamas. In July, 17 people died in Angelo informal settlement after gas leaked from a cylinder allegedly used by illegal miners in the area. This prompted calls from residents for the army's intervention, which was echoed by Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi.

Ramaphosa said about R492m would be spent on the soldiers' deployment.

“Members of the SANDF will, in co-operation with the SA Police Service, be conducting an intensified anti-criminality operation against illegal mining across all provinces from October 28 2023 until April 28 2024,” the president said.

It is not clear whether the contract will be extended, but in the past year, crime-related SANDF contracts have been prolonged.

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