Dead SA miner to be buried ‘among his own people’

2010-11-25 07:01

The South African who died in the mining disaster in New Zealand, Koos Jonker, had left the country after a crime-related incident.

Now, the 47-year-old’s body will be brought back to the country of his birth to be buried on the family farm in Limpopo – “among his own people”, said his son Pierre yesterday.

Jonker was one of 29 trapped miners who are believed to have been killed in a second blast at the Pike River coal mine.

They had been trapped since Friday.Pierre said the news of a second blast had been unexpected.

The 22-year-old said he’d thought there was still a chance of them being rescued when officials said during an information session that they had “big news”.

Then they were informed that it would be a “miracle” if any of the men survived a second explosion at the mine yesterday.

The police said there was “no chance” of any of the men being found alive.The status of the search had been changed from rescue operation to recovery operation, Louise Luttig reported from Auckland, new Zealand, yesterday.

The New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, has ordered an official investigation into the tragedy.

Complaints about mine safety
Pierre, in a Facebook post, thanked people for their prayers and wrote: “ekt nog nie opgegee nie in my hart voel ek hy is nog da, en dat ek hom weer kan vashou want ons dien ’n almagtige GOD!!!!” (I haven’t given up, in my heart I feel he’s still there, and that I can hold him again because we serve an almighty God).

Pierre would not elaborate on the incident which had made Koos, his wife Christelle and her daughter, Charné van Wyk Joubert leave the country for New Zealand four years ago.He added that his dad had qualified for New Zealand citizenship days before the mining disaster.

Pierre said his father and a few other workers at the mine had often complained about safety in the mine.

“Mine safety in New Zealand is streets behind that in South Africa,” said Pierre.

He said the mine had a single entrance and exit and just one ventilation shaft.

AFP reported yesterday that along with the grief was anger, particularly at police, who were blamed for preventing rescuers from trying to reach the missing men in the days immediately after the first blast.

They had considered it too dangerous.

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