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South Africa’s illegal miners appear in court

Published on 19/02/2014

Some of the illegal miners who were arrested after they surfaced from a disused gold pit in South Africa, including two teenagers, appeared in court on Wednesday, police said.

“Today only ten of the more than 20 men who have been arrested so far appeared in court,” said police spokesman Paul Ramaloko.

“Most of them were illegal immigrants from Mozambique, including two teenagers aged 13 and 14-years-old, who were released to the care of their parents,” he said adding that others were remanded in custody.

They will return to court for bail application on February 27.

They face charges of illegal mining, trespassing and possession of precious metals.

Police were still investigating before bringing the other group to court.

The men emerged from an abandoned gold mine east of Johannesburg on Sunday, sparking a rescue operation.

They had became trapped when large rocks fell blocking the entrance to the shaft. Others are still holed up underground, fearing arrest.

On Tuesday, two bodies were discovered near the mine where the arrested men were rescued.

Authorities said one decomposing body was lifted by the miners through a different hole from where the others were trapped. Rescuers were still trying to reach the second body.

Illegal mining is common at South Africa’s abandoned gold mines where empoverished people extract gold using makeshift tools.