Gauteng Premier David Makhura says criminals, including zama zamas have taken over South Africa, and the country has become ungovernable.
Makhura was addressing Kagiso residents west of Johannesburg on Sunday during the second leg of an imbizo by police minister Bheki Cele and national commissioner General Sehlahle Fannie Masemola, and other officials.
Angry residents have reiterated calls for army deployment in order to tackle rampant crime, which they blame on illegal zama zamas.
Makhura has called for ‘armed branches of the state’ to ‘deal with zama zamas.
“We need the armed response of our state. We need to organise all the security capacity of our democratic state to respond in a way we have not done before. Our country is ungovernable. The criminals have taken over.”
Makahura says he is worried about the safety and security of the people of Gauteng.
“Illegal miners, the zama zamas are contributors of huge violent crime in our country right now. They have moved beyond the operations.
“They are stripping electricity infrastructure. They are interfering with underground infrastructure. The security of the state is at great risk.”
Most of the zama-zamas in South Africa are from specific countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a fact known to the police.
“This is information that is not a secret. There are those who come from Lesotho…Zimbabwe…and there are those who come from Mozambique. There are three countries.”
Meanwhile, as part of ongoing police efforts to combat illicit mining and associated crimes in the West Rand, the Saps says it will step up operations, deploy necessary resources and specialised units of the service, to keep residents living in the epicenter of illegal mining safe.
Cele says the allegations of police corruption and inadequate service delivery at stations will be probed at a provincial level and acted on.
He also acknowledged the community’s call for the South African Defence Force (SANDF) to be deployed.
“The request to bring in the army will be considered, when the need arises.
“This process takes a long time however in the meantime, the police’s response to flush out these Zama Zama’s will continue and will be bolstered by reinforcement of these specialised units, who will be deploy here while government works on a broader plan to tackle the whole value chain of illicit mining and its benefactors.”
During protests one person was apparently killed in mob justice, while dozens of illegal immigrants were also arrested.
Meanwhile, Makhura’s political career is also on the line. The DA in Gauteng is expected to file a motion of no confidence at the province’s legislature on Monday.