Expatica news

S.Africa government won’t recover illegal miners’ bodies

South Africa’s department of mines will not recover the bodies of at least 20 illegal miners presumed dead after a disused gold mine collapsed on them last week, an official said Monday.

“The department does not engage in illegal mining. The owners of the assets should be responsible,” minerals and energy department spokeswoman Zingaphi Jakuja told The New Age newspaper.

The accident at the Grootvlei mine near Johannesburg came to light last

Monday when one of the miners managed to escape from underground and alerted


A search was called off five days later.

According to the trade union Solidarity, rescuers found a group of men still working in another part of the mine.

“These men confirmed that at least 20 of their comrades had died in the rockfall,” said spokesman Gideon du Plessis.

Du Plessis said a decision to seal the section with concrete would be taken later Monday at a meeting of the department, the Chamber of Mines, and labour unions.

He said no further rescue operations were possible. “The area where they are trapped is inaccessible.”

The mine in the east of Johannesburg is owned by President Jacob Zuma’s nephew and a grandson of Nelson Mandela. It had been officially closed but not made secure.

Illegal mining, often operated by criminal syndicates, is common in South Africa’s disused gold mines.