Mine deaths investigated

2017-07-19 06:03

Only two victims have been identified in the bloodshed involving rival illegal miners at mines in Welkom and Odendaalsrus. According to the police, several people died in separate incidents and some bodies were burnt beyond recognition.

The killing spree unfolded this past week (11 to 12 July) at the mines in the two towns in the Free State Goldfields.

Col. Thandi Mbambo of the Free State police says those two identified were both found inside a Ford Ranger, which was also burnt out. She said findings of the preliminary investigation shows the two deceased were protecting the property of the mine and were employed by one of the companies rehabilitating dysfunctional mines in the region. A truck, three excavators and an LMV with other equipment were also burnt. The other victims could not be identified.

“The bodies were burnt beyond recognition and some were decomposed,” said Mbambo. She said some of the deceased, believed to have died due to methane gas, had tags, adding that investigation will further establish their origin and if they are foreigners.

Mbambo said the bodies were disco-vered after the police were called to Welkom and Odendaalsrus.

The bodies were found on the pre-mises of St Helena, Phakisa and Geduld. Mbambo said the bodies had gunshot wounds and seven burnt bo- dies were retrieved from underground at Eland Mine. An additional 15 burnt bodies, suspected to be illegal miners (zama-zamas) were also retrieved.

Cases of murder have been opened.

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