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Protests as more than 80 rape suspects appear at Jo'burg court

An anti-foreign group protest outside the Krugersdorp, South Africa, Magistrates Court Monday, Aug. 1, 2022.   -  
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Shiraaz Mohamed/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

South Africa

More than 80 men suspected of the gang rapes of eight women and armed robbery of a video production crew west of Johannesburg appeared in court on Monday.

As the hearing took place, a 300-strong crowd people gathered outside the Krugersdorp Magistrates Court to express the community's fury over the attack.

News of the rapes and robbery has angered community and women's organisations in the area, who have complained that such incidents are rife around Krugersdorp.

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 illegal 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 residents.

"They have not been taking us seriously. And it had to take this kind of crime to happen for us to be able to put the issues of illegal immigration on the map," protester Lerato Ngobeni, told The Associated Press.

Another demonstrator, David Makgaka, called on the South African National Defence Force to be deployed in the area, and said the local police had failed them.

The men were arrested at an abandoned mining site following the rapes and robbery nearby.

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 South African Police Service will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that the suspects are ultimately brought to book," South African National Police Commissioner, Lieutenant-General Fannie Masemola, said at a news conference in Pretoria on Monday.

Laboratory studies of DNA samples from the raped women will be used to identify perpetrators of the rapes, police said.

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

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