Over 80 men accused of raping eight women appear in South African court | South Africa

Date: 2022-08-02T09:36:50.000Z

Location: www.theguardian.com

More than 80 men suspected of the gang rapes of eight women and the armed robbery of a video production crew in the South African town of Krugersdorp, west of Johannesburg, have appeared in court.

The men were arrested at an abandoned mining site following the rapes and robbery near the disused mine.

The suspects are allegedly illegal miners known as zama-zamas who dig for gold in the Johannesburg area’s many closed mine shafts. Many of the miners are foreigners, according to local reports. The zama-zama gangs of illegal miners are also blamed for widespread crime in the area, according to local people.

The gang rapes occurred when a crew filming a music video at one of the abandoned mines was attacked by armed men on Thursday last week, according to police.

“The crew of 22 people – 12 women and 10 men– were busy filming a music video when they were allegedly attacked by a group of armed men clad in blankets,” the police commissioner for Gauteng province, Lt Gen Elias Mawela, said in a statement.

“The suspects ordered everyone to lay down and proceeded to rape eight of the women and robbed everyone of their belongings before fleeing the scene,” he said. All the crew’s video equipment was stolen. Police were investigating 32 counts of rape, he said.

Laboratory studies of DNA samples from the raped women would be used to identify perpetrators, the national minister of police, Bheki Cele, said on Monday.

Others arrested are expected to face additional charges of illegal immigration and illegal mining.

More than 300 people protested outside Krugersdorp magistrates court on Monday to express fury over the rapes. News of the gang rapes and robbery has angered community and women’s organisations in the area, who have complained that such incidents are rife around Krugersdorp.

“We are going to demand that the police station should be placed under administration because the community has reported many crimes committed by the zama-zamas but nothing has been done,” said Zandile Dabula, the secretary general of Operation Dudula, an organisation that protests against illegal immigrants in South Africa and joined the protest outside the courthouse.

“It is clear that they are failing to deal with crime in this area so they should be placed under administration,” said Dabula.