20 illegal miners feared dead after rockfall

2012-03-08 18:57
Johannesburg - A group of illegal miners is feared dead after a rockfall at the closed Gravelotte gold mine on the East Rand, trade union Solidarity said on Thursday.

It said an illegal miner who survived the fall said 20 other miners were killed in the rockfall in a mine between the Grootvlei and the Gravelotte mines on the East Rand.

The union's deputy general secretary Gideon du Plessis said a group of men were apparently mining illegally when there was rockfall and they were trapped.

The mine is near Grootvlei, where former Big Brother contestant Brad Wood and four others allegedly shot dead four alleged illegal miners at the embattled Aurora Empowerment Systems mine last year.

Wood, who was head of security at Aurora's Grootvlei Mine, and co-accused site manager Nicholas Pretorius, Herbie Trouw, Willem Coetzer and Mickey Mazaan, were found not guilty of murder and attempted murder following the killing, near Springs, in August.

Grootvlei mine is owned by President Jacob Zuma's nephew Khulubuse Zuma and former president Nelson Mandela's grandson Zondwa Mandela.

Earlier, police said a man was rescued and claimed there was a rock the size of house pinning down others underground.

Du Plessis said the liquidators of Pamodzi Gold should expedite the process of selling the assets of the Grootvlei mines to put an end to illegal mining.

"Until the assets were finally sold off, no one was going to take full responsibility to stop illegal mining activities at the mines," he said.

The number of illegal mineworkers killed in the accident had not yet been confirmed.

"Efforts to recover the bodies have been unsuccessful so far, as the area is too unstable to continue with recovery efforts," said Du Plessis.

He said it appeared that the illegal miners obtained access to the mine through Grootvlei's Van Rijn opencast mine.

- SAPA
Read more on:    johannesburg  |  accidents
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