117 illegal miners arrested in South Africa

Johannesburg, July 16 (IANS) The South African police Wednesday confirmed the arrest of 117 illegal miners after a multi-sectoral raid on the unlawful mines in Mpumalanga province in the eastern part of country.

The police said the illegal miners were from Lesotho after the specialised team consisting of Bomb Squad, Tactical Reaction Team (TRT), Public Order Policing, Crime Intelligence, K9, Airwing and National Intervention conducted the sting operation, Xinhua reported.

"A well coordinated operation which started in the early hours of the morning, which consisted of various specialised units led to the arrest of 117 illegal miners aged between 18 and 45, who are believed to be from Lesotho," police officer Selvy Mohlala said.

Mohlala said the raid was caused by the incident of shooting to death of a Lesotho national in the illegal mines Friday last week.

The victim was shot by illegal rival groups doing illegal mining.

"The suspects will be appearing before the Evander Magistrates' Court today (Wednesday) and tomorrow (Thursday) facing charges of illegal mining and trespassing," the police officer added.

Some illegal miners have, of late, been killing each other over mines in particular areas.

In June, four Lesotho illegal miners were shot in Benoni near Johannesburg.

This follows the death of 23 Zimbabwean miners in Johannesburg mines early this year.