20 ‘zama zamas’ found dead and wrapped in plastic bags


Twenty bodies — believed to be those of illegal miners — were discovered just outside Klerksdorp in the North West this week.

Police spokesperson Brig Sabata Mokgwabone said five bodies were found at about 7pm on Monday evening in the vicinity of Orkney. Another 15 bodies were discovered on Tuesday afternoon.

The bodies were found wrapped in white plastic bags.

Mokgwabone said police have opened inquest dockets after the unidentified male bodies were discovered. According to police, the men suffered severe burns to their bodies.

As part of investigations, said Mokgwabone, postmortems would be conducted to determine the causes of death.

“On Wednesday 14 more decomposed bodies were found along Ariston Road near the railway line in Orkney.”

According to Mokgwabone that while police were busy on the scene on Wednesday they received information of another body found near the unused mine shaft ventilation in Lawrence Park.

“While still processing the scene, the police received information that another body was discovered where the initial five bodies were found, thus bringing a total number to 20. “

He added that furthermore, the deceased all suffered severe burns.

“As part of investigations, post-mortems will be conducted to determine a cause of death for these men whose bodies were found wrapped in white plastic bags.”

Mokgwabone said the investigation into the matter continues.


“It includes the possibility of linking the bodies found with the video that was circulated on social media platforms wherein a man calling himself “Mafifi” was seen pleading for assistance following an apparent smoke inhalation occurrence at shaft number six.”

The police request anyone who may have information regarding the incident to call Colonel Gaanakgomo at 082 568 5975 or South African Police Service (SAPS) Crime Stop number: 08600 10111. Anonymous tip-offs can also be communicated via My SAPS App. The information will be treated with strictest confidentiality.