Illegal miners given a pauper’s burial

2009-08-27 14:45

The unusual sight of two dozen pauper graves has apparently not deterred illegal mining activities in the Free State.

Mourners

at the funeral of the 24 unidentified illegal miners, held at the

Phumlani Cemetery in Thabong, Welkom, heard that illegal mining

activity continues despite May’s horror underground fire that claimed

89 lives.

So far 65 bodies have been identified of which 43 are Lesotho nationals.

The

burials today, were attended by about 50 people, including Lesotho

diplomats, pastors, mortuary and funeral parlour workers who braved the

scorching Welkom heat.

The Matjabeng Local Municipality

covered the burial costs after a request to do so was made by the the

Welkom-based Lesotho Diplomatic Mission.

“We asked the

municipality to facilitate the burying process,” said Lesotho

diplomatic official Sethunya Koqo. They specifically asked the

municipality for separate graves and to ensure that the funeral was

sensitive to African customs that requires that each person has his or

her own grave.

Welkom police say 140 arrests for illegal mining have been made with four convictions since June.

Police

spokesperson Captain Stephen Thakeng said three illegal miners where

sentenced to between seven and 12 months imprisonment or fined between

R2 400 and R10 000.

Another illegal minor was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment without the option of a fine.

All four were convicted for theft of gold-bearing material.

The local pathology services is keeping DNA records of 24 unclaimed bodies in case their relatives come forward later.

  • Read more about this heart-rending burial in this Sunday’s edition of the City Press.

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