West Village community lives in fear as zama zamas slowly return
Residents have beefed up their security systems
Fear. Uneasiness. CCTV cameras. This is what characterises the community of West Village, Krugersdorp, nearly three months after the horrific rape of eight women, allegedly by illegal miners known as the zama zamas.
This week, residents of the old mining town said they were still shaken by the incident, saying that they had been terrorised by zama zamas for years.
The owner of Bukies Pub and Grill, Themba Mpofu, said fear still permeates the area.
His establishment has been robbed more than five times and some of his patrons were killed.
“We are still not safe in this area as the police are not doing patrols regularly, saying that they are understaffed and lack resources such as cars to drive around. I have to hire a security company to guard my business and my life. It is a scary situation,” he said.
They are coming back to the area, we are scared they will strike back
“Two of my customers were shot right where we are sitting last year, one of them was killed. When those guys come here, they cause havoc and instil fear. Running this business is dangerous and I have installed security cameras and an alarm system to make sure that my clients and staff are safe.
“These people are coming back in the area in small numbers, and we are scared that they will strike back and terrorise us again,” said Mpofu.
Marnie Grover, who also decided to install CCTV cameras and an electrical fence at her property, said she was still living in fear and believed the illegal miners are making their way back into the area.
“Those people are dangerous and when they strike, it becomes deadly. I am shaken to the core as I know that living in this area is like being in hell. I have installed a security system around my property because I don’t want to live with the regret of not securing my place against those hooligans. We are even scared to walk on our streets freely because anything can happen, even in broad day light,” said Grover.
During Sunday World’s visit this week, the area resembled a ghost town, with only few people on the streets, nervously looking over their shoulders.
Michael Nkabinde said he was still not sure if it is safe to walk around the area as he had experienced the fury of the blanket-clad criminals who roam the streets and terrorise the community. “I am making sure that I don’t walk alone anymore. Many people now walk in groups and the police’s promise to patrol the area was a lie. We are on our own and these people are coming back one by one, and later they will be making our lives a living hell. If I had a gun, I would walk around with it to protect myself,” said Nkabinde.
Disebo Pilane said: “I had to hire a security company to protect my family and property as the police are not protecting us. As you can see, many properties have security companies’ signboards as we cannot compromise our safety.
“We were left with no choice but to take our safety seriously. This area is dangerous and when those people run amok, families grieve.
“Our kids cannot even go out to the shops on their own as they could be attacked anytime.”
There is lack of activity at the mine dump of horror as many fear that illegal miners are regrouping. Tevin Mangena said he had decided to unleash his pitbulls in his yard. When he goes to the shops, he gets comfort being accompanied by his vicious dogs. “I had to protect myself, and my dogs give me the security I need.” Key West Group estate agent Ryno Botha said: “It has become difficult for us as estate agents to sell houses in West Village due to crime. Even if banks approve loans they later withdraw because of the area’s criminal history.” Mapogo a Mathamaga operations manager Ben Willemse said: “We used to be operational in that area, but we withdrew our vehicles and services in West Village last year after one of our security guards was fatally wounded.
“We are still monitoring but we are no longer doing armed response. That area is bad with zama zamas terrorising the community.”