Cops seize gold dust, ar­rest zama za­mas

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - MASABATA MKWANANZI masabata.mkwananzi@inl.co.za @Sa­bie_M

PO­LICE have seized about 200 bags of gold dust in Roset­tenville.

Joburg Metro Po­lice Depart­ment (JMPD) of­fi­cers stum­bled across the bags while pa­trolling the area yes­ter­day.

JMPD deputy di­rec­tor Faith Lekg­wathi told The Star that the po­lice were do­ing their nor­mal pa­trol du­ties when they spot­ted the il­le­gal min­ers, and called for back-up.

Sev­eral dug holes with shov­els in them were found at the site, along­side bags con­tain­ing gold dust.

Themba Se­longa, one of the il­le­gal min­ers at the scene when other zama za­mas were ap­pre­hended, said there was noth­ing wrong with il­le­gal min­ing ac­tiv­ity, as they were do­ing it to make a liv­ing.

Se­longa said it had been a month since he started min­ing il­le­gally at the dump site.

“There is noth­ing wrong that I am do­ing. As you see me stand­ing here and telling you about this oper­a­tion, the po­lice should not ar­rest me as I am only mak­ing a liv­ing for my­self and my fam­ily,” he told The Star shortly be­fore he was ar­rested.

Se­longa said he used to work at the mines and lost his job, which led him to re­sort to il­le­gal min­ing. He ex­plained that he trod care­fully and avoided go­ing deeper into the mine to avoid the dan­ger in­side.

“I dig up to one me­tre of the hole, and start pour­ing the soil into my bags that I will later mix with wa­ter that will leave the small pieces of gold dust,” he said.

Se­longa, who is in his early 30s, said he trained a few of the peo­ple he worked with as he saw them wan­der­ing the streets look­ing for food.

“I felt bad and I de­cided to show them how to make money with­out steal­ing and rob­bing peo­ple,” he said.

If he man­aged to fill 100 bags with gold dust, he usu­ally made close to R2 000, which he shared with fel­low zama za­mas he teamed up with.

He was left with about R500 that he used to sup­port his fam­ily.

An­other zama zama, who wanted to re­main anony­mous, said he was in the same “scheme” as Se­longa, although they don’t work to­gether as each group has its own ter­ri­tory to dig up.

The man said he was orig­i­nally from Le­sotho and he was told about the place by his friend.

“A friend told me about the place be­fore it was full of zama za­mas and I saw an op­por­tu­nity to make money and have my ter­ri­tory,” he said.

Lekg­wathi said the zama za­mas had in­formed her about other op­er­a­tions that were more dan­ger­ous tak­ing place across the road.

“We need to plan a big oper­a­tion to­gether with the SAPS as the zama za­mas are more ag­gres­sive on that other side as I am in­formed on how ag­gres­sive they can be­come,” said Lekg­wathi.

She added that some of the il­le­gal min­ers were ac­tu­ally camp­ing in­side the dug up holes, and they had their own oper­at­ing times, as they only worked at night.

Lekg­wathi said the ar­rested zama za­mas would be charged with hav­ing sus­pected stolen property.

She said the po­lice would in­ves­ti­gate whether the mine dumps be­longed to the City of Joburg or a pri­vate owner.

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