NEWS
07/03/2017 07:16 GMT | Updated 07/03/2017 07:20 GMT

14 Bodies Found Near Benoni Are Believed To Be Illegal Miners

Gang violence between rival zama zamas could be behind the killings.

The Washington Post/Getty Images

Acting national police commissioner, Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane has condemned the murder of 14 people found near Benoni.

It is believed that the bodies are those of illegal miners.

Phahlane's office said the bodies were found over the last two days. Six bodies were found Sunday with apparent gunshot wounds. Eight more were found on Tuesday.

ENCA reported that police on Monday speculated that the deaths could be related to rival gang violence related to illegal mining.

Eye Witness News (EWN) quoted police spokesperson, Lungelo Dlamini saying that the victims could have been killed elsewhere and dumped where they were found. He reportedly said it appeared as if they were all killed in the same way.

Miners told EWN that gunshots were heard near their operations on Sunday, and warned that rival gangs were armed and dangerous.

Meanwhile, Phahlane said, "Amongst other issues, the proliferation of firearms in the country is under discussion, following the announcement made by the Minister of Police, Nkosinathi Nhleko, of a firearm amnesty period which begins on the 1st of April 2017.

"The Provincial Commissioner of Gauteng, Lieutenant General Deliwe de Lange and her management team are overseeing the investigation into these murders. We will wait for the investigation to advance and the victims to be identified before speculating on a motive. Communities can be assured that the South African Police Service remains committed to further reducing the levels of serious crime and we are presently focusing on refining our crime prevention and combating operational plans."