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Illegal Miner Killed, 426 Arrested in Free State Police Operation at South Africa

Published on Sunday 7th November 2010

An illegal miner was killed, two injured and some 426 arrested during a police and mine security operation at the St Helena mine near Welkom, police said on Friday.

Free State police spokesman Captain Stephen Thakeng said police and mine security in a joint operation visited a problematic illegal mining area at the St. Helena mine at 8am on Thursday.

During the operation the illegal miners formed groups and attacked police with stones, which resulted in some sustaining bruises and minor injuries.

Thakeng said shots were fired and one illegal miner was killed and two seriously injured. The wounded were admitted to a Welkom hospital under police guard.

He said the illegal miners were eventually overpowered and 426 zama-zamas (the term for an illegal miner in the mining industry) were arrested.

Equipment such 165 plastic basins, mercury, 37 spades, three picks, one block and tackle, five hammers, one saw and 25 kgs of gold bearing material and 30 kgs of copper cable were seized.

Thakeng said charges of trespassing and not having legal documents to be in South Africa would be investigated.

Those arrested were from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and South Africa.

The case has also been handed over to the Independent Complaints Directorate.

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