Police arrested as many as 36 illegal miners in Stilfontein on Sunday morning, the Hawks said in a statement. This comes after authorities responded to an apparent turf war amongst armed factions.
The District Illicit mining task team and local police were the first respondents on the scene, near the Stilfontein shaft, where a fight had broken out between more than 100 illegal miners. The warring rivals are believed to be Lesotho nationals fighting to assert dominance over each other for illegal mining turf.
The Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation team were summoned to the scene. The collaborative efforts between the authorities resulted in at least 36 supects aged between 20 and 42 being arrested after they split into small groups upon discovering law enforcement presence.
One suspect was shot and wounded in the upper body after he reportedly ignored calls for him to drop his firearm.
Three loaded AK47 assault rifles, a .303 rifle, a pistol, magazines and various ammunition were seized, the Hawks said.
The group is expected to appear at the Stilfontein Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday to face various charges, including conspiracy to commit a crime, possession of prohibited firearms and ammunition.
Their immigration status is also a subject of an ongoing investigation, the Hawks said.