South African Police are investigating murder cases after six bodies, all with gunshot wounds and believed to be illegal miners, were found in an open veld next to a railway line in Benoni, Ekurhuleni.
There are fears that among the deceased were Zimbabweans as the area is known to be frequented by foreigners who engage in illegal mining.
Many Zimbabweans live in South Africa with the majority of them doing menial jobs.
According to Gauteng Police, a passer-by called police after he came across the bodies at about 9am on Sunday.
SAPS is still investigating the case and is in the process of identifying the bodies.
“Police found that all (the) bodies have gunshot wounds on the upper body. It is suspected that the deceased were killed elsewhere and taken to where they were found as they were put in a pattern. It is also suspected that the deceased are illegal miners.
“The motive for the killings is still unknown and the bodies have not yet been identified.
“Police have opened six cases of murder, and the investigation is continuing,” SAPS said in a statement.
In 2015, South Africa emergency workers retrieved 11 bodies of Zimbabweans who were killed when a generator they were using in a disused underground mine exploded in Benoni, 35km outside Johannesburg, South Africa.
The group, which comprised 15 people – among them Zimbabweans and Mozambicans – reportedly entered the mine on August 27 using the generator for lighting and drilling.
During the process, they started a fire using planks which produced toxic gases which then mixed with carbon monoxide from the generator which also exploded.
The group died of asphyxiation (oxygen deprivation) while a few managed to escape and made a report to the police.
The mine is located in the Springs area of Benoni.
The incident also came a year after 22 Zimbabweans perished in a disused gold mine in Roodeport in May 2014.
Zimbabwe’s Consul-General to South Africa, Mr Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro, recently appealed to Zimbabweans living outside the country to avoid engaging in dangerous activities.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and their Botswana counterparts are still looking for 10 of the 18 prisoners who escaped from lawful custody at Gerald Estates Centre for Illegal Immigrants in January.
According to media reports from the neighbouring country, some of the fugitives are believed to have fled to Zimbabwe and their whereabouts are still unknown.
Botswana police recently acknowledged that the search for the 10 prisoners wass proving difficult.
They have since engaged their counterparts to help find the fugitives.
The prisoners who have been classified dangerous by the Botswana authorities escaped after destroying a fence with a manhole cover. So far only eight have been arrested.
The escapees were on remand and were facing charges for dangerous offences such as murder and robbery.
Botswana police, prison officials and soldiers have been working around the clock to bring the culprits to book.
Gerald Estates Police Station commander Superintendent Edward Leposo was quoted as saying that the leads provided to the police had turned cold.
Those still at large are Chakalani Barati, Musa Willy, Elvis Ndlovu, Dzikhamani Ndebele, Innocent Nyoni, Edwin Ncube, Sunganai Tafiraushe, Givemore Chaloba, Brilliant Thabisani and Bruce Masuku.
Two escapees are Botswana nationals while the rest are Zimbabweans.
“We have been getting various leads about the whereabouts of the prisoners, but they have produced nothing.
“We are on the ground trying our best, but the search is proving to be difficult. What is key is that we are getting many leads from the public and we remain optimistic that they will lead to more arrests,” Supt Leposo said.
One of the escapees, Thabani Ncube, was arrested in Zimbabwe where he is facing a theft charge and authorities are processing his extradition to Botswana.
Other prisoners who have been arrested are Rowland Moyo, Gaomodimo Molosiwa, Mlindeli Moyo, Sicelo Sibanda, Godwin Mapunganyika, Charlotte Ndlovu and Methuli Sibanda.
The prisoners were arrested in Francistown, Masingwaneng and Tutume. The Herald