Miners blast 'rescue protocol'
JOHANNESBURG: Police said yesterday at least three illegal miners trapped in a disused gold mine in Langlaagte, west of Johannesburg, had died.
As many as 16 people were thought to have unlawfully entered Johannesburg’s oldest gold mine at George Harrison Park last week.
On Monday, Mining and Rescue Services personnel brought the body of an illegal miner to the surface. They also rescued another miner who was in a critical condition. He was taken to Helen Joseph Hospital.
On Tuesday night, relatives and friends of the trapped illegal miners went underground and retrieved two bodies after Mining Rescue Services and police had called off the search.
It has since been established that the men who had entered the disused mine were all Zimbabwean nationals.
Captain Kay Makhubele said police arrested four illegal miners when they emerged from the mine on Sunday and nabbed another three on Monday.
“All seven illegal miners will face charges of illegal mining at the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court soon. The corpses of the three dead illegal miners were taken to a government mortuary in Hillbrow.”
Mineral and Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane visited the mine on Monday, where he pleaded with the families of illegal miners not to send “untrained” people underground on a rescue bid.
But the chairperson of the Zimbabwean Community in South Africa, Ngqabutho Mabhena, criticised the South African government for calling off the rescue operation, saying it was arrogant. “This is arrogance at its best. The minister came here like a pop star.
"He simply just addressed the families without engaging them. He had no interest in talking with the people who work in this mine.”