Police 'cracking down' on illegal mining

Police say they are doing everything they can to curb illegal mining in Gauteng.

Emergency services attempt to rescue trapped miners at an illegal mine shaft in Benoni on 16 February. Picture: Reinart Toerien.

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng police have denied allegations that they are failing to respond to illegal mining taking place in the province, saying regular raids are taking place.

The past few days have seen dramatic rescue operations of illegal miners, who are otherwise known as 'zama zamas', trapped in abandoned mines.

Experts say the problem will only be solved by catching syndicate leaders and dismantling their operations.

The police's Oswald Reddy says authorities are doing everything they can to curb the practice.

"We have what we call have a mining crime combatting forum and the stations that experience challenges meet on a regular basis and discuss the problems they are experiencing and we also conduct weekly raids."

The bodies of two illegal miners were discovered at Benoni's Gravelotte Mine on Tuesday.

It's believed the men died after a shaft caved in on Sunday.

The mine is situated around two kilometres from the abandoned Gold One Kleinfontein Mine where around 25 illegal miners have been brought to the surface since Sunday.

The men have since been arrested and charged with illegal mining.

They were discovered on Sunday when Ekurhuleni metro police were patrolling the area and heard screaming from the abandoned mine.

It is speculated that more than 300 miners are still in the shaft, with many refusing to surface because they fear being arrested.

Authorities have sent communication notifying the illegal miners that the hole will be sealed on 3 March.