Illegal miners

Image: Flickr

CHAOS: 300 illegal miners attack security, 30 arrested, six killed

Havoc and carnage struck Orkney, North West. 300 illegal miners, aka the “Zama Zamas,” attacked security to release underground fellow miners.

Illegal miners

Image: Flickr

The South African Police Service (SAPS) has reported a bloodbath massacre that left six illegal miners dead and 35 arrested in Orkney, North West on Wednesday 6 October. About 300 “Zama Zamas” used explosives to exit from the underground before attacking security.


A group of police and security teams raided 300 illegal miners who were launching an onslaught on security staff at an Orkney shaft ventilation. Six people were killed and 35 suspects were arrested for attempted murder, causing an explosion, malicious damage to property, and conspiracy to commit crime.

“In a bid to address illicit mining activities, the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Illegal Mining Team comprising of various units such as Public Order Police (POP), Detectives, Organised Crime, National Intervention Unit and Forensics, working together with other role players including mine security, arrested on Wednesday, 6 October 2021, 35 suspects for attempted murder, causing an explosion, malicious damage to property and conspiracy to commit crime,” SAPS said.

“The suspects were arrested at No. 6 Lawrence Park shaft ventilation in Orkney and the vicinity.”

“The arrests came after a group of approximately 300 illegal miners commonly known as “Zama zamas” attacked and shot at the security officers and later the police in an attempt to forcefully provide food stuffs to their fellow illegal miners who were underground. The shooting incidents that unfolded at about 18:30 led to the deaths of illegal miners.

“Four bodies were found in the vicinity of the shaft, one was found approximately 800 metres from the crime scene while the sixth one was found in the bushes near Kanana Location. Several food parcels and two firearms were found at the crime scene.”


Police say the violent attack came after the management decided to crack down on illegal mining undertakings. Mining shafts were reportedly closed off, leaving many illegal miners trapped underground.

“The arrests and shooting incidents came after a decision by the mine management to clamp down on illegal mining activities by closing the ventilation shaft which the “zama zamas” had been using to enter and exit various shafts,” SAPS added.

The situation left the illegal miners trapped underground with no food supply and water. This led the “Zama Zamas” to use explosives to gain force exits out of the sealed shaft last weekend. Three days later, the “Zama Zamas” launched emerged again to launch the attack that resulted in 300 arrests and six fatalities.

“The action effectively stopped the supply of food stuffs and water to the “zama zamas”. Consequently, some of the illegal miners voluntarily and due to shortage of food and water, used explosives to open a hole and started to exit the shaft on Saturday, 2 October 2021. On Sunday, 3 October 2021, more than 500 had already exited the shaft. They were thoroughly processed including being medically examined for dehydration before being released. Some were treated by paramedics while a few others were taken to hospital.

“Although nobody exited on Monday and Tuesday, the “zama zamas” exited again on Wednesday afternoon, 6 October 2021. It was at that stage that some of the illegal miners launched an attack which resulted in the deaths.”