Police in South Africa’s Johannesburg reported that five individuals were shot dead, with suspicions of the violence being linked to clashes between rival illegal mining gangs.
Five bodies, suspected to be those of illegal miners, were discovered near an abandoned mine shaft in the suburb of Riverlea, located to the west of Johannesburg.
“Preliminary investigation suggests that two rival groups of the illegal miners were shooting at each in the area” police said in a statement.
Police have launched an investigation into the killings and have called on the public to come forward with any information that may assist in the case.
With an unemployment rate of over 32 percent, South Africa is home to thousands of illegal miners known as “zama zamas” (“those who try” in the Zulu language).
The Johannesburg region is speckled with slag heaps, shafts, and deep trenches left behind by generations of miners. Their arrival during the gold rush in the 1880s gave birth to the city.
Gangs of zama zamas control access to these old mines.
In September last year, local media reported that at least seven illegal miners were shot and killed near the same slum.