A turf war between two rival Sotho illegal mining factions (Zama-Zamas) ended in multiple murders.

According to Colonel André Laing of Roodpoort police a fight broke out on Sunday between a group from Sol Plaatjie and another from Matholiesville over a mine shaft at the Marie Louise settlement.

A security guard said the group from Matholiesville chased the group from Sol Plaatjies, both factions branding firearms. Four of the group being chased fell behind and was abducted by eight Zama-Zamas from the rival gang.

A police search on Monday and Tuesday was fruitless but on Wednesday a tip-off from the public led the police to a shack in Denuza. Eight suspects fled but was apprehended by a rival group and handed over to the police.

The suspects were taken to Roodepoort police station and after being interrogated one suspect said he was willing to show the police where the bodies of the four abductees were.

At the mine dump behind Dunuza five policemen, including Laing, were met by about a 100 knopkierie-wielding Sothos who initially allowed them through. When they arrived at the dump the 100 plus Sothos were waiting for them and became hostile towards the five policeman and suspect. The police were able to defuse the situation and the suspect showed them a manhole in which he alleged the bodies were. After an attempt by the suspect to go down the manhole and dig up the bodies it was abandoned due to the sand at the bottom being unstable.

The suspect was taken back to the police station because the police feared for his safety and the K9 Search and Rescue unit was called in at about 5pm.

After a joint effort between the K9 unit and some of the illegal miners, four bodies were exhumed.

The eight suspects were arrested on charges of murder.

Riaan van Zyl

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