The gang rape of eight women working on a film crew at an abandoned mine last Thursday led first to one of the biggest police crackdowns in post-apartheid history. This in turn led to a violent pogrom of zamazamas by local residents in the area.
Here’s a timeline of events in Krugersdorp’s week of hell:
Thursday 28 July:
- A video production crew made up of 12 women and 10 men are attacked and robbed by a group of around 20 armed men wearing balaclavas and draped in Basotho blankets.
Eight of the women are repeatedly raped before the assailants rob R1.5-million worth of equipment and belongings and let the crew go.
Friday 29 July:
- Police Minister Bheki Cele accompanied by Gauteng police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Elias Mawela leads a multi-disciplinary operation of law enforcement agencies and security companies around Krugersdorp. Sixty-five suspects are arrested and two more are fatally shot by the police.
This is the first of several police crackdowns throughout the week.
- Minister Cele tells the media in Alexandra after visiting victims’ families that DNA samples have been collected and sent for testing. He says that by Friday, they will have confirmed the assailants’ DNA.
- President Cyril Ramaphosa calls the gang rape of eight women “a manifestation of how gender-based violence spreads”. He is attending the ANC’s Policy Conference at Nasrec.
Saturday 30 July:
- At an EFF rally, party leader Julius Malema calls for the assailants to be punished harshly.
Sunday 31 July:
- Police operations continue over the weekend and more suspects are arrested, bringing the total to at least 80.
Monday 1 August:
- All suspects arrested over the weekend appear in court.
- Ramaphosa uses his weekly letter to call on members of the public to come forward to help find the assailants.
Tuesday 2 August:
- Returning with helicopters, police raid the abandoned gold mines around Mogale City, arresting a further 46 zamazamas. This brings the total to at least 126.
- One zamazama is killed during a shootout with police.
- Not a single suspect that has been arrested since Thursday has been linked to the rapes. Police Commissioner General Fannie Masemola says, “We are working on the investigation to see if some of them will be linked.”
Wednesday 3 August:
- Sixty suspects appear in the Krugersdorp Magistrate’s Court. Fifteen suspects believed to be minors are moved to the Juvenile Court.
- Police use drones and K9 units as they continue to raid the local mines. At least 30 more suspects are arrested, bringing the total to upwards of 156.
- Gauteng Police Commissioner Elias Mawela announces that the DNA of 17 of the men arrested will be tested for potential links to the rapes.
- EFF calls on Cele to resign over failure to deal with crime in the country.
Thursday 4 August:
- While the police are conducting a raid in Tarlton an area of Mogale City, a Mozambique national is stoned to death in Kagiso allegedly by community members.
- Kagiso residents take matters into their own hands, going from shack to shack, shaft to shaft rounding up zamazamas and ferrying them to the police.
Shots can be heard being fired in the abandoned mines as residents attempt to root out zamazamas.
- By Thursday evening, at least 64 foreign nationals have been arrested as local residents force them into cars and deliver them to the Kagiso police station.
By Thursday night, upwards of 200 men had been arrested.