The murder of 14 illegal miners could be linked to turf wars between international crime syndicates, who use zama zamas to steal more than R7billion's worth of gold from South Africa every year.
The Times reported that these syndicates have been behind more than 200 illegal miners over the past four years.
The disused mineshafts of Gauteng's East Rand are reportedly the "epicentre" of the international illicit trade in precious metal, the paper said.
The 14 miners are believed to have been killed as part of violence between rival zama zama gangs, and were possibly killed elsewhere before being dumped in Benoni.
The report quoted sources who alleged that the police are complicit in the turf war, with the head of the Blue Hawks Security, Frans van der Linde, alleging that police had robbed zama zamas as they emerged from the shafts.
The police did not respond to The Times' questions about their alleged involvement.
However, Gauteng police spokesman Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said police had put together a team of detectives to investigate the 14 murders.
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi told The Times that numerous investigations into illegal mining syndicates were under way. He added that the investigations encompassed "all sorts of people" which included police officers.Suggest a correction