Watch continues for illegal miners

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BR Mine 624814

Independent Newspapers.

Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi.

Johannesburg - The abandoned Gold One mine shaft in Benoni on the East Rand was being monitored to see whether there were more illegal miners, said Ekurhuleni mayoral spokesman Zweli Dlamini said on Wednesday.

Dlamini said that he was not sure how many miners were still trapped inside the mine shaft but they were “monitoring the situation”.

Twenty-two of the 25 people rescued from the abandoned mine would appear in the court on Wednesday, the Hawks said.

Captain Paul Ramaloko said 11 miners, who were meant to appear in the Benoni Magistrate's Court on Tuesday, would now appear with 11 others on Wednesday, facing charges of illegal mining.

He could not say why the court appearance on Tuesday was postponed.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Nathi Mncube said earlier on Tuesday that the accused were not brought to court, but also did not provide a reason.

The miners were found on Sunday when Ekurhuleni metro police on patrol heard screaming from the abandoned mine.

A rival group had thrown boulders down the open mine shaft, trapping them underground, ER24 spokesman Werner Vermaak said.

Paramedics initially said there were 200 illegal miners trapped in the mine.

Rescue workers abandoned the mission that same night after the remaining men refused to be brought to the surface for fear of being arrested.

Food and water was sent down to them.

The bodies of two illegal miners were also found in a separate mine shaft in Benoni last week, police said on Tuesday.

Dlamini said the incident was separate from that of the 25 illegal miners who were rescued from the shaft being monitored in Benoni.

“It is two or three kilometres away from the other incident,” he said at the time.

One of the bodies was retrieved on Tuesday, while the other remained underground.

Dlamini said the police and the department of mineral resources knew about the two deaths since late last week.

He said that emergency rescue services were not tasked with retrieving these bodies, as operations of this nature were the competence of the companies operating the mines under the supervision of the department. - Sapa


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