Gayton McKenzie, Patriotic Alliance leader, has praised overnight police raids in Riverlea and urged law enforcement to expand the fight against illegal mining to other parts of the country.
The neighbourhood has been plagued by running gun fights between competing zama zama gangs, leaving the people terrified.
On Wednesday evening, police raided Riverlea and the adjoining Zamimpilo informal colony after minister Bheki Cele pledged to send specialised teams to the region.
McKenzie applauded the intervention and urged that it be spread throughout South Africa.
McKenzie stated it was time to restore law and order after seeing a video of a suspected zama zama making threats.
“We are being disrespected at an indescribable level by these illegal miners. We have been warning you, these people will rather declare war before they leave the country”.
He claimed police were often scared to “enter and deal decisively” with illegal miners.
“This operation can be over in a few hours if we are seriously fighting crime”.
The raid resulted in the arrest of 35 illegal migrants, according to Gauteng Police Spokeswoman Brenda Muridili.
“One person for possession of unlicensed firearm and ammunition, three for common assault and four for possession of suspected stolen property,” she said.
Muridili said police will continue to make arrests in the area “until illegal mining activities have been stabilised”.
Cele dismissed claims that Riverlea police were not doing enough.
“There was lots of issues of not seeing the forces on the ground. Indeed, we did say we’ll be escalating there. There were forces yesterday, yes not enough.
“But if you go there today, we’ve got 56 forces. As we speak more than 20 zama zamas have been arrested and operations are going on there and we are quite satisfied people are doing well,” Cele said at the launch of Operation Shanela in Cape Town on Wednesday.