illegal mining zama zamas

Illegal mining operations are growing in Benoni. Photo: Facebook

Illegal mining: Are senior politicians profiting from crime?

Government has been accused of dragging its feet when it comes to properly criminalising illegal mining in South Africa.

illegal mining zama zamas

Illegal mining operations are growing in Benoni. Photo: Facebook

Government’s “failure” to criminalise illegal mining has led to widespread speculation that senior political figures are profiting from the crime. 

The Democratic Alliance says government authorities have lost control over at least two mining settlements in Gauteng. 


The party says residents living nearby the Zamimpilo settlement in Riverlea and in the area between Snake Road and Golden Drive in Benoni are being terrorised by killings, shootings and explosions daily. 

Both areas are the scene of extensive illegal gold mining operations.

DA Shadow Minister of Mineral Resources, James Lorimer said residents say both areas are like war zones, with up to ten major explosions in Benoni every night. 

Lorimer said on Monday (15 March), adjacent to Zamimpilo, warring gang members shot and killed a man right next to Main Reef Road at 10.30 in the morning.

“Zamimpilo experiences fusillades of shots at night that continue for hours on end. That’s thought to be by gangs struggling for control of the illegal mines. Both areas are honeycombed by illegally dug shafts. In both cases, police appear to have given up and seem unwilling or unable to take any action, despite the shooting and explosions

“Illegal mining has been a problem for years. Estimates of its cost to the economy range from the Minerals Council’s R7 billion to the estimate of R20 billion by a major mining company.” 

James Lorimer

Lorimer said if the government is not prepared to enforce the law, it should not be surprised when increasing numbers of people disobey it.


At least 15 bodies of suspected zama zamas were discovered over the weekend in Ekurhuleni. It is not clear exactly how the suspected zama zamas died.

It comes just months after it was reported that several bodies of suspected illegal miners were discovered in different parts of Makause informal settlement, which is also in Germiston.

In the recent years, parts of Ekurhuleni have seen warring factions of illegal miners shooting and killing each other.

ALSO READ: Bodies of suspected zama-zamas discovered in mining hole