Calm has returned to Kagiso, west of Johannesburg, as police kept up their street patrols to prevent the further burning of homes of suspected illegal miners known as “Zama Zamas” in the community, Kagiso mayor Tyrone Gray said on Friday.
One person, however, was found dead in the aftermath of the protests, police said.
Gray said some of the targeted foreign nationals lived in Kagiso legally and “are not Zama Zamas.”
The mayor appealed to locals not to target people for being foreign nationals and suspected to be Zama Zama’s operating illegally at abandoned mines in the area.
He said they had managed to calm the situation in Kagiso now.
With several streets shut down, angry residents on Thursday searched for the illegal miners and undocumented immigrants, making citizens’ arrests as they burnt their homes – leaving them smouldering in ashes.
Some 23 people were arrested during the protests overseen by the police who were led to the mines where the suspects were hidden.
Police are still maintaining a strong presence in the area on Friday to make sure there were no recurrence of the previous day’s events, they said.
According to a local resident, the illegal mining in the area was bigger than just the much-blamed Zama Zamas who in fact were sponsored by legitimate companies who provided them with the mining tools.
“The real Zama Zamas that we’re speaking about are these big companies that are refining this gold from the mine dumps,” said Karabo Mosetlhi, the Choko Five Movement executive chairperson in Kagiso.