Illegal miners, also known as "zama zamas," are "an armed force that is getting stronger, forcing people out of their homes, and taking over." At a big meeting of residents and government officials in Krugersdorp on the West Rand, David Makhura, the premier of Gauteng, said that illegal miners were "a matter of national security."
Makhura, the police minister Bheki Cele, and the national commissioner Gen. Sehlahle Fannie Masemola were among the high-level delegates at the second leg of the ministerial crime fighting imbizo. After a tense week in the area, delegates from the police ministry and SAPS management asked for calm and promised to take action.
"Now, I'll tell you. The Hawks, the National Intervention Unit, the Special Task Force, and the Tactical Response Team. "They'll all be back here on Monday," Makhura yelled in response to angry, frustrated, and scared people's outbursts. "On the 11th, when we do inspections door-to-door, I'll be back to deal with this. As the crowd cheered, he added, "I will be back here with the Revenue Service and home affairs."
Cele then got up on stage and said, "They have better equipment than we do. So the Hawks will return and find the money." The goal of the event was to talk about police needs, since people were illegally mining in the area. Since a terrible gang rape happened in Kagiso last weekend, police have arrested more than 100 people they think are illegal miners. Suspects, who are thought to be illegal miners, attacked and raped eight women who were making a music video.
At this weekend's "West Village Imbizo," as the event was called on Twitter, people from Krugersdorp asked for military help against what they called "a war on the community by illegal miners with weapons of war," according to Lirandzu Themba, a police ministry spokesperson. People had the chance to talk about their fears, worries, and requests for what needs to be done. Many people threatened violence, and others begged for the military to help and for harsh measures to be taken against illegal miners.
Cele said that even though he was minister of police for a short time, he will always be the father of two girls. "So I can promise you that we are not made of plastic. And as a dad, I know how painful this is. So, every time I come back, I come to this imbizo and take your abuse," he said, referring to the fact that people had said he lived in a nice house with 24-hour security and didn't care about their safety or situation.
"We shouldn't talk to women about rape; we should talk to men instead. In just three months, there were 10,000 reports of rapes, and half of them happened in homes. People we know are doing this in their own homes. Amafamilies." Cele said. He promised that help would keep coming to the area until peace was restored.
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