According to National Police Commissioner Fannie Masemola, authorities do not have enough resources to deal with the country’s rising problem of illegal miners.
Several communities devastated by zama zama violence in the past are now putting pressure on the commissioner and law enforcement.
Residents in Riverlea are living in fear following the discovery of five dead over the weekend. They are thought to be connected to a gunfight between two rival mining gangs.
Following the killing of 17 people in Boksburg last month as a result of an illegal mining-related gas leak, police said that they would deploy specialised squads to deal with the zama zamas.
But Masemola said that from Tuesday, officers would be deployed to Riverlea.
“Currently, we have problems of mines in the Emalahleni in Mpumalanga, that’s currently where we are. But effective today, we are deploying in Riverlea but we are also going to be reinforcing the whole of illicit mining from the West Rand all the way up to Ekurhuleni.”
He claimed that the SAPS budget had been reduced. “We need to sacrifice some of our resources to go full time on this problem of zama zamas. We have limited resources – the same people used in West Rand are currently in Mpumalanga. When the area has stabilised, we move the resources to where there are current problems and that you can see is not working for us.”