12 Basotho illegal miners found dead

12 Basotho illegal miners found dead

Rose Moremoholo

WELKOM

 

TWELVE Basotho illegal miners were found dead in the Bambanani east shaft mine in Welkom on Sunday.

Welkom police spokesperson Captain Stephen Thakeng said the dead men were identified as Basotho because they had name tags strapped on their bodies.

The first three bodies were found at the shaft a few days earlier but the police were alerted yet again on Sunday about the presence of nine more decomposing bodies in the shaft.

“Welkom police were informed by mine security about additional bodies that had been retrieved from underground at Bambanani West shaft mine in Welkom,” Thakeng said.

“On arrival, there were nine bodies in a decomposed state with name tags on each deceased. All of the deceased are from Thaba-Tseka in Lesotho,” Thakeng said.

The South African police have begun an inquest into the deaths.

He said the police had since been informed that the chances of retrieving more bodies from the mine were high.

“We are still monitoring the situation and working together with mine security and the Crime Intelligence Unit has also been engaged to closely monitor the mine,” he said.

Three days earlier, a Mosotho man was arrested after he was caught with an illegal firearm. He was also found in possession of gold bearing material of an unknown value and weight.

Thakeng said last Thursday afternoon, members of the Provincial Task Team were on foot patrols next to Phomolong Village in Welkom when they noticed a suspicious looking man who was then approached.

“While the team was busy searching him, a firearm and ammunitions were found in his possession. Gold bearing material was also found in his possession with unknown value and weight,” Thakeng said.

The suspect is set to appear in the Welkom Magistrate’s Court this week to face charges of possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunitions and possession of gold bearing material.

The Lesotho Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was not aware of the incidents when approached for comment last night.

“We have not received such news, and I will look into the department that directly works with miners and mines in South Africa tomorrow,” Foreign Affairs spokesperson Setloke Lekhela said.

In 2014, it was estimated that there were at least 14 000 illegal miners in South Africa most of whom were Basotho and Zimbabweans.

 

 

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