Illegal miners left horrified after mass murders

The workers say they believe the 14 men were killed after they discovered a mine shaft containing a lot of gold.

Illegal miners say they are aware of the dangers that come with their illegal trade. Picture: Victor Magwedze/EWN.

BENONI - Illegal miners in Benoni say they’ve been left horrified following the mass murders of their fellow so-called Zama Zamas in the past few days.

The workers say they believe the 14 men were killed after they discovered a mine shaft containing a lot of gold and were not willing to part with it.

The suspected illegal miners were found in two different locations in Benoni in the past two days.

A police helicopter has been flying over the area where eight bodies were found on Monday.

Several illegal mining shafts are located near this area.

One illegal miner says there have been many similar incidents in the past where miners turn on each other because they’ve struck gold at the shaft they’re working on.

“It’s the miners at shaft 13, they would kill each other over mining shafts that seem like they’re yielding a lot of gold. It’s so bad that side we’re even afraid to go.”

The Zama Zamas still operating in the area say the killers may have been from shaft 13, where armed rival gangs are rife.

FAMILIES TO SUPPORT

The illegal miners say they’re aware of the risks involved after the discovery of the bodies of 14 men over the past few days, but they have families to support.

Police say preliminary investigations show the victims were either shot or stabbed to death.

Illegal miners located near the Van Ryn Train Station in Benoni say there are many disused shafts and others dug by Zama Zamas.

One illegal miner says a team of 12 has been digging their own shaft, now 15 metres deep, for three months.

“It’s sad because the way they were killed could also happen to us. We’ve just decided that whatever happens will happen, because the 14 who were murdered were just trying to provide for their families like we are.”

He says they are afraid that rival gangs may realise that their shaft is lucrative and kill them.

Police say they are investigating leads that should lead them to the arrest of those responsible.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)