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Six shot dead, eight wounded, 87 arrested in North West illegal mining crackdown

Six suspected illegal miners were shot dead and eight others were injured, during a shootout with police in Orkney, North West. File photo

Six suspected illegal miners were shot dead and eight others were injured, during a shootout with police in Orkney, North West. File photo

Published Oct 21, 2021

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Rustenburg – Six suspected illegal miners were shot dead and eight were wounded during a shootout with members of the Special Task Force, assisted by the Hawks Organised Crime, in North West.

Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale said, during the an intelligence driven operation, in Orkney, on Wednesday night, 87 zama zamas (illegal miners) were arrested.

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She said, when the multi-disciplinary team arrived at the identified shaft, they were met with gunfire.

“The police team returned fire, wounding eight suspects and killing six, while 87 suspects were arrested. One member of team was wounded. The wounded suspects were taken to hospital, under police guard,” said Mogale.

“The team seized two mini buses, illegal mining paraphernalia, gold bearing material, 11 illegal firearms (three shotguns, three rifles, four pistols, and one revolver), and bags of food.”

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The group was expected to appear in the Orkney Magistrate's Court on Monday, facing charges of attempted murder, illegal possession of gold, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, illegal possession of prohibited firearms, theft and conspiracy to commit an offence.

In a separate incident, North West police said Neo Chaketsa, 33, and Malefane Manama, 35, were due to appear in the Orkney Magistrate's Court on Friday, facing charges of unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.

“The accused were nabbed by members of Stilfontein Public Order Police (POP) on Tuesday, October 19, 2021, after being found in possession of .38 revolver firearm, 20 rounds of ammunition, two pairs of gum boots, and 21 knee guards,” spokesperson Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone said.

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He said the police were conducting crime combating patrols in Kanana, near Orkney, when they received and responded to a tip-off, about two armed suspected illegal miners, at one of the local pubs.

They were found at the pub and searched. They were found in found in possession of a .38 revolver, 20 rounds of ammunition, two pairs of gum boots, and 21 knee guards.

They were arrested and appeared in the Orkney Magistrate's Court, where their case was postponed to Friday.

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North West provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Sello Kwena had warned that the police, working together with other role players, would not hesitate to deal effectively with illicit mining activities and removing firearms, which are used in the commission of serious and violent crimes, from the wrong hands.

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