The Police Ministry is confident the South African Police Service (SAPS) has the capabilities to deal with illegal miners who are terrorising communities living in the West Rand.
As part of ongoing police efforts to combat illicit mining and associated crimes in the West Rand, the SAPS will step up police operations, deploy necessary resources and specialised units of the service, to keep residents living in the epicentre of illegal mining safe.
Police Ministry and SAPS management led a two day Crime Combating Imbizo in West Village; Krugersdorp and another in the Kagiso area in the West Rand. The community meetings were also attended by Premier of Gauteng David Makhura and members of his Executive Council, officials from the Department of Home Affairs as well as the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy. Residents of both communities expressed their concerns around violent crimes committed allegedly by illegal miners who residents refer to as ‘blanket people’ or so called ZamaZamas.
Residents also claim the majority of Gender Based Violence (GBV) crimes are committed by the illegal miners who are often heavily armed, and many of them undocumented foreign nationals.
The Izimbizo also resulted in numerous complaints of police corruption and the local police who are not responding adequately to their policing needs.
Police Minister, General Bheki Cele has ordered a full SAPS clean-up in the West Rand as an immediate policing intervention.
“No community must be prisoners of crime and ruthless criminals who act without impunity, residents have the right to feel safe and to sleep at night. This is why the SAPS, must be seen and must be felt while the sealing of mines is expedited by those responsible.”
Police National Commissioner, General Fannie Masemola has committed more boots on the ground.
“We will respond through action as the police, we will deploy the highly trained TRT, NIU and Special Task Force and K9 teams to make sure we flush out all undesirable elements in this area. Whoever comes with fire will be met with fire. We ask for space to conduct these operations and request the community, to assist us, work closely with us and ensure we bring perpetrators to book through court processes.”
Cele says the allegations of police corruption and inadequate service delivery at stations will be probed at a provincial level and acted on. The Minister also acknowledged the community’s call for the South African Defence Force (SANDF) to be deployed.
“The request to bring in the army will be considered, when the need arises. This process takes a long time however in the meantime, the police’s response to flush out these Zama Zama’s will continue and will be bolstered by reinforcement of these specialised units, who will be deploy here while government works on a broader plan to tackle the whole value chain of illicit mining and its benefactors.” concluded Cele.
The SAPS has since established multi-disciplinary Economic Infrastructure Task Teams, made up of different specialised units partnering with the private security, government departments as well as business.
The collaboration aims at preventing and combating economic and critical infrastructure related crimes, including illicit mining across all nine provinces within identified districts per province.
These Task Teams have hit the ground running where Intelligence gathering and analysis remains one of the key operational approaches.
The Police Ministry has applauded the community of Kagiso for exercising restraint and handing over the suspected illegal miners, during the community protest against illegal miners earlier in the week. The Ministry is also appealing to residents to work with the police and bring forward information that can assist police inventions and operations.
Source: South African Police Service