Johannesburg – Three suspected illegal miners died when an unused mine shaft they were working in caved in and trapped them underground.
Despite efforts to save the men’s lives, they were declared dead at the scene.
According to Brigadier Leonard Hlathi of the Mpumalanga Police, a distressed call was made about three men who had been trapped underground at Nesta old gold mine in Sabie on Saturday.
It was believed that the incident was associated with illegal mining activities, he said.
Police and paramedics rushed to the scene.
However, they found that the men’s friends had managed to retrieve them underground and brought them to surface.
“The men aged 40 and 45, got trapped inside the mine when a portion of the shaft caved in on them.
“The victims were brought to the surface by their friends, whereupon their arrival (police and paramedics) these men where certified dead.
“An inquest has been registered and preliminary investigations have since revealed that the men were part of a group who were conducting unlawful operations of digging minerals underground,” Hlathi said.
Mpumalanga Police commissioner Lieutenant General Mondli Zuma, has sent a stern warning to the community, urging them to refrain from participating in acts of illegal mining.
In February this year, Ekurhuleni firefighters spent seven hours trying to retrieve the body of an illegal miner who was buried 3 metres underground when the land he was working on collapsed under him.
The illegal miner had been digging alone at the shaft when the sides of the shaft collapsed on him, burying him underground.