Ramaphosa mourns the deaths of four SANDF troops who died of carbon monoxide poisoning in Orkney

Published Jul 9, 2024


President Cyril Ramaphosa has sent his condolences to the families of four South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members who died on duty while attempting to foil illegal mining activity in Orkney, North West.

The four soldiers were found dead on Saturday, July 6. It is believed they died of carbon monoxide poisoning after they started a fire to stay warm.

The SANDF said on Sunday that the soldiers were on duty as part of Operation Vala Umgodi - an operation that deals with illegal mining activities.

The soldiers were deployed to a 24-hour shift at Shaft 3, a dormant mining shaft in Orkney near the disused Harry Oppenheimer stadium which has been a hotspot for illegal mining.

The SA Police Service has opened an inquest docket and is currently investigating the deaths.

Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said Ramaphosa has offered his condolences to the families of the victims as well as to their commanders and colleagues.

“The President’s thoughts are with the team of soldiers who discovered their deceased colleagues in a container at a disused mine shaft at Orkney in the North West Province.

“While police are investigating the matter, the deceased troops, who showed no injuries and were fully kitted and armed, are believed by the police and the SANDF to have died from carbon monoxide poisoning resulting from a fire they made to keep warm.

“The troops were part of Operation Vala Umgodi which is directed at combating illegal mining,” said Magwenya.

The death of the four soldiers comes as the country faces a cold weather snap, mainly in the Western Cape, since Sunday.

The cold front has spread to other parts of the country, including Gauteng, where temperatures reached -3°C on Tuesday morning.

The funeral service for the deceased are yet to be announced.