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South Africans Wielding Machetes Attack Illegal Miners over Gang Rape

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday condemned acts of “mob justice” perpetrated by South Africans against illegal miners this week in response to the brutal gang rape of eight women by suspected illegal miners last week at an abandoned mine near Krugersdorp, South Africa, eNews Channel Africa (eNCA) reported.

“Today, we also saw mob justice being played out,” Ramaphosa acknowledged during a televised speech at South Africa’s Presidential Social Sector summit in Boksburg on August 5.

“People, because of their anger, going out to confront a number of people, and there being mob justice,” eNCA quoted Ramaphosa as saying.

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The president referred to mob violence against members of illegal mining camps in Krugersdorp starting on August 4 that continued through August 5.

Al Jazeera detailed some examples of the violence on Thursday, writing:

Thousands of angry residents in the South African city of Krugersdorp attacked a group of illegal miners with machetes, golf clubs and hammers after a gang rape last week shocked the nation.

“The mob set fire to their camps in Krugersdorp’s Kagiso township on Thursday and barricaded roads with rocks and burning tyres during a protest against the miners’ presence, whom they blame for high levels of crime in the area.

Some were stripped of their clothes and whipped by residents, while others were chased out of their camps and beaten before being handed to over to the authorities. Police kept a distance and fired stun grenades from a helicopter to disperse the crowds.

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The attacks on the camps of the illegal miners — colloquially known as “zama zamas” — were perpetrated by local residents. Many of the locals are frustrated by alleged police inaction against the established, nefarious activities of the miners in the area. Most zama zamas have entered South Africa illegally from Lesotho, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

“Residents from several areas on Gauteng’s West Rand went on the rampage against zama zamas after the brutal gang rape of eight women at a Krugersdorp mine dump a week ago,” eNCA reported on August 5.

“Kagiso residents meanwhile say there’s not enough visible policing,” the news agency relayed.

Krugersdorp is a town located within South Africa’s Gauteng province, while Kagiso is a township of Krugersdorp.

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Women protest outside the Krugersdorp, South Africa, Magistrates Court Monday, Aug. 1, 2022. More than 80 men suspected of the gang rapes of eight women and armed robbery of a video production crew in the ming town, west of Johannesburg appeared in court on Monday. (AP Photo/Shiraaz Mohamed)

South African authorities suspect that a zama zama gang of unknown numbers committed a brutal, hours-long gang rape of eight women at an abandoned mine near Krugersdorp on July 28. The armed gang encircled the group of women, most of whom were models hired for the day, as they attempted to film a music video at the remote site before raping them repeatedly at gunpoint.

“Young people there between 19 and 37 were raped, some by 10 men. You can imagine the trauma in that situation,” South African Police Minister Bheki Cele told eNCA on July 30.

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One anonymous survivor of the gang rape described some of the males who raped her as “young boys,” to South Africa’s Sunday Times on July 31.

“They kept telling the younger boys to rape us and they’d hit them and force them to do so,” a woman who helped book the models for the video shoot told the newspaper.

“The young boys would then take us, one by one, to the bushes. The last time they raped me was in front of the other group,” she said.

South African police have arrested more than 80 men, mostly zama zamas, in the week since the July 28 mass rape in Krugersdorp. It remains unclear how many, or if any, of the suspects are responsible for the gang rape, however, as authorities have so far only charged the suspects with illegal immigration or theft.

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South African Police Minister Bheki Cele told eNCA on July 30 that “DNA testing and identification parades will take place soon to see if any of the suspects were among the group that raped the women.”

“Surely our laboratories, which are grinding now, they will prioritise, work on that,” he added.

South Africa has the world’s third-highest rape rate after Lesotho and Botswana. The government of South Africa recorded nearly 11,000 rape cases within the first three months of 2022.

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