South Africa: Five killed in suspected illegal mining gang violence

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Five people have been shot and killed in Johannesburg in suspected violence between rival gangs of illegal miners, police said.

The five bodies, believed to be those of illegal miners, were found near an abandoned mine shaft near a suburban slum to the west of Johannesburg.

“The preliminary investigation suggests that two rival groups of illegal miners shot each other,” said the police in a statement, which opened an investigation and called on the population to provide information.

With an unemployment rate of over 32%, South Africa has thousands of illegal miners nicknamed “zama zamas” (“those who try” in the Zulu language).

The Johannesburg area is dotted with man-made hills, shafts and deep trenches left by generations of miners, whose arrival during the gold rush in the 1880s led to the birth of the city.

Access to these old mines is controlled by gangs of zama zamas.

In September 2022, a media reported that at least seven illegal miners were shot and killed near the same slum.

Africanews/Hauwa M.