The community of Kagisa, west of Johannesburg, is calling on the government to close an abandoned mine shaft which they claim is fueling illegal mining.

Some residents say they are forced to sleep under their beds for fear of becoming victims of illegal miners, who they accuse of being involved in crimes such as rape, murder and robbery.

The Kagiso community took to the streets on Thursday to protest illegal mining in the area.

Video: Magale Mayor Tyrone Gray calls for peaceful protests

Residents went from house to house where the illegal miners lived and destroyed their shacks before confiscating some of the equipment and tools they used in their illegal mining.

Community leader Skila Moswang says: “As you can see, we have closed their mine – they are processing gold here – they only rented this place to clean gold.”

Residents went down to the house in the Kagiso building, 8, where the zama-zamas were being removed, and began to dismantle the structures.

Large bathtubs filled with contaminated water and bags of cleaned soil bore witness to the illegal mining they had undertaken. The owner of the house, who asked not to be named, says she tried to chase them away, but they refused after realizing what they were doing was illegal.

“I asked them why what you’re doing is attracting so many police officers. They told me that they were working with the police. I had hope when I saw police cars coming at night, thinking they would take them away, but they didn’t – they only took money.”

Residents of the Soul City informal settlement – also in Kagiso – detained 19 illegal miners near the Tudor shaft. They were stripped naked and beaten with whips – before being rescued by the police.

Soul City community members include Sbongile Maishe, who lost her 17-year-old daughter in 2019, allegedly at the hands of illegal miners. She says her daughter was abducted and her body was found dumped near a hatch near the Tudor mine a week later. She was gang-raped and killed. To this day, no one has been arrested for her murder.

“Our local police station has promised that Interpol will go to Lesotho to arrest the suspects and bring them back to South Africa so that the case can be reopened. From 2019, they say they will go to Lesotho. I want justice and I will not rest until I get justice for my child.”

“Faulty Justice System”

The Soul City community says the justice system in South Africa has failed them, so they’ve decided to take it upon themselves to hunt down illegal miners and stop them.

Residents also called on the government to send soldiers to help stop illegal mining.

“The permanent solution is to declare a state of emergency and deploy soldiers. The police are understaffed and there is too much corruption.”

About 25 illegal foreign citizens were arrested by Thursday evening. One person also died. Gauteng Deputy Police Commissioner Tommy Mtambeni says it is not true that they have let the community down.

“You know the numbers by the number of people we arrested. And probably these people were arrested by the efforts of the police. One could understand that these people would not go to the police station themselves. Even today, people are arrested by the efforts of the police in cooperation with society.”

Police say they will continue to monitor the area.

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