Joy, tears, and panic could be seen among families at Gold One mine in Springs as over 500 miners were seen leaving the mine in mini buses on Wednesday afternoon after being trapped in the mine since Sunday.
“It was a problem underground; there was no food, only water inside,” said a miner who was trapped underground. Speaking to IOL, a miner who did not want to be named said the experience down there was horrible and he could not take it any longer.
The 43-year-old, who is a general worker at the mine, said even though he wanted to resurface, he could not because there were people who monitored all their movements.
“Some of the people who tried to resurface were harshly warned not to attempt such. Some of them were beaten,” he said.
He stated that he was not happy with the situation, as he was worried about his family and children in case something happened to him.
The miners were trapped amid a dispute between Amcu and NUM trade unions.
They staged a "sit-in" on Sunday amid a dispute between two trade unions. For three days, family members, colleagues, and friends gathered under a shade port just outside the mine, worried and fearful while awaiting the miners who were “held hostage” underground.
The group was welcomed by joyful colleagues and families who had camped outside the mine since Monday.
“We are happy that our children are back, safe, and still alive. Imagine three days without food and proper sleep,” said an elderly woman in the crowd who was waiting for her son.
However, some of them were not as excited as others because some of their relatives were still inside. The Deputy Secretary-General of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Mpho Phakedi, said they were happy that their members and employees were all back. He confirmed that all workers were out, although some of them were not well.
"There are those that are not well, but they are receiving the necessary medical attention. We are hopeful that they will have a break to rest with their family. They will come to work after they have recovered," he said.
According to Phakedi, the SAPS and private security at the mine managed to make their way down to rescue miners.
Responding to a question on the situation, he said knobkerries were discovered underground. "We don't know exactly what type of weapons were used to keep workers down there".
"Those people were tired and could not relay things that had happened underground. A number of knobkerries were discovered," he maintained.
He said they would look closely into this matter to get exactly what happened during the "sit-in" underground.