Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
SOUTH African police have dismissed media reports in that country alleging that Zimbabweans were among 87 suspects arrested in connection with murder of nine suspected illegal miners from Lesotho in Matholeville, a western district of Johannesburg.
Gauteng police spokesperson Colonel Noxolo Kweza yesterday confirmed to The Chronicle that there were no Zimbabweans involved in the murder of the nine Lesotho nationals.
The alleged murder occurred on Friday last week.
South Africa’s Sowetan newspaper reported that Zimbabweans were among the murder suspects, a report which has since been dismissed by that country’s police.
“A few hours after nine people were murdered in Matholeville, Provincial Commissioner of the Police in Gauteng Lieutenant General Elias Mawela summoned police officers from different stations and units within the Johannesburg District and Provincial Office to hunt down the suspects and deal with all forms of criminality in Matholeville and the surrounding areas. From those arrested in connection with the killing of the nine, there are no Zimbabweans,” she said.
Col Kweza said the nine Lesotho nationals who were involved in illegal mining were stoned to death, allegedly by their fellow illegal miners from Lesotho.
According to South African media reports, the nine illegal miners popularly known as Zama Zamas were killed in a deadly attack in the West Rand township of Matholeville in an alleged turf war over control of disused mine shafts.
Residents said the fight was about the rights over the illegal mining in the area.
The bodies of the nine Lesotho citizens were found lying on the streets of Matholeville, while a 10th person was seriously injured.
He was taken to a local hospital where he is being treated. According to the South African Human Rights Commission, thousands of illegal miners, among them Zimbabweans, operate in the neighbouring country with violent clashes between rival groups common. – @mashnets