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Johannesburg - A fatal shooting outside the closed Lily Mine in Barberton, Mpumalanga has raised suspicion that illegal miners have invaded it.

Brigadier Leonard Hlathi, Mpumalanga, police spokesperson, on Monday said a man died after being shot during a gunbattle with police outside the mine.

Another man who was wounded was recovering in hospital. Police arrested two suspects, who were due to appear in the Barberton Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

“They are facing charges of unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition, attempted murder and possession of dagga,” Hlathi told The Star.

He said the shooting was preceded by some high drama the previous day, involving accomplices and security guards at Lily Mine.

“On Saturday, we received a call from the guards to say they had arrested a man with a high-calibre firearm.

“While the police were on their way to the scene, they were informed that a group of men armed with high-calibre weapons emerged from the bushes and manhandled two guards.

“They then took the man who was arrested. When the police arrived, the man was nowhere to be seen.

“Police operations got under way there from Saturday. On Sunday, they were met with gunfight.

“A shootout ensued and two people were wounded. One died,” Hlathi said.

Police suspected that the men were trying to gain access to Lily Mine for illegal mining. The gold mine has been closed since the April 2016 incident that claimed the lives of three workers.

The bodies of Pretty Mabuza, Solomon Nyarenda and Yvonne Mnisi were never recovered after being trapped underground.

The search operation was said to have drained the mine’s financial resources, causing it to be placed under business rescue.

The owner, Vantage Goldfields, said it required R300million to revive operations.

The Star