The Police Ministry says it is encouraged by the strides made in improving the safety and security of residents in Krugersdorp, West of Gauteng, since the deployment of specialised SAPS units to the area.
The West Rand is the epicentre of illegal mining activities in the Gauteng province and has seen an increase in crimes associated with illegal mining.
In July, eight women were raped allegedly by a group of armed men, believed to be illegal miners or so-called ‘zama zamas’, operating in the mining town of West Village.
On Sunday, the ministry and SAPS management - led by Police Minister, General Bheki Cele and National Police Commissioner, General Fannie Masemola - conducted a walkabout in West Village and Reitvallei in the West Rand, where they interacted with residents to assess police progress in addressing community safety concerns.
Police have arrested 14 people linked to the gang rape, including a minor and all suspects are going through court processes, facing multiple charges of rape, sexual assault, robbery with aggravating circumstances and the Contravention of the Immigration Act.
The suspects are expected back in court on 28 September 2022.
Many residents in both areas revealed that their safety has improved drastically since many illegal mining operations have been halted. At the same time, some members called for more police operations focusing on the areas where illegal miners are still operating.
Cele assured the communities that police deployments to improve their safety will remain indefinitely.
“We have come to listen to these communities and hear for ourselves about people’s lived experiences since we have put in the specialised units of the SAPS in the West Rand.
“What is important now is for the SAPS to sustain the momentum at which the operations started on, and this will ensure that illegal mining and general criminality is kept at a minimum and eventually stopped altogether,” Cele said.
The Police Ministry has welcomed the continued police operations targeting illegal mining in the West Rand, leading to the arrests of scores of suspects each week.
The arrests are related to, among other crimes, the Contravention of the Immigration Act and Contravention of the Precious Metal Act. This after some suspects were found in possession of gold bearing materials associated with illegal mining.
Source: South African Government News Agency