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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Zama zama arrested after shootout with police in Riverlea

The deployment of specialised units in Riverlea has resulted in over 200 arrests.

One illegal miner has been arrested for attempted murder in Riverlea, Johannesburg, following a shootout with members of the South African Police Service’s National Intervention Unit (NIU).

The specialised units, who were deployed in the area following gun battles that left Riverlea a “warzone” earlier this month, came under fire from zama zamas during patrols on Monday at about 5pm.


Police spokesperson Brigadier Brenda Muridili said the NIU members were patrolling Main Reef Road in Langlaagte when they came across six men entering George Harrison Park, a well-known site for illegal mining, with food parcels.

“The members followed and when the men approached an open cast mine they ran into a hole. Shots were fired towards the members from the hole and they retaliated. One illegal miner was arrested while the others managed to get away.”

Muridili said none of the NIU members and the suspects were injured during the shootout.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) has been notified of the shooting.

ALSO READ: Cele mobilises specialised units to Riverlea ‘to restore law and order


Muridili added that there have been several arrests since the unit was deployed.

“The deployment of national specialised units have since 2 August 2023 resulted in the arrest of over 200 people in Langlaagte, 187 of those are undocumented immigrants involved in illegal mining activities.

“The police have seized illegal mining equipment, explosives as well as eight firearms and ammunition. The operations will continue until the area has been stabilised,” Muridili said.

Earlier this month, Police Minister Bheki Cele said the specialised police units were deployed to the area to apprehend zama zamas and put a stop to illegal mining operations.

“Our focus is to ensure law and order is restored in the area. We cannot have a situation where communities live in fear. we are going to deal decisively with these criminals,” Cele said.

ALSO READ: WATCH: ‘People are being slaughtered’ − Riverlea residents live in fear

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