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.

  • Penny - 2012-03-08 19:27

    Very sad indeed. Stealing from the mine owners and now they are dead. Crime doesn't pay.

      Isabel - 2012-03-08 21:01

      These men were desperate because they were starving, betrayed by fatcat mine owners withnames like Zuma and Mandela. They are victims, not criminals.

      Rodney - 2012-03-09 00:53

      @ Isabel, so if a starving man breaks into your home to steal goods, that's ok is it? Theft is theft, no excuses Next we will start to make the same excuse for people who steal electricity, they are victims blah blah blah. Bull, they are criminals. end of.

      Deon - 2012-03-09 11:38

      No I, they were thieves.

      Daan - 2012-03-09 11:42

      Find out who owns the hole in the ground & prosecute them!!!!!!!!!!!

  • bluzulu - 2012-03-08 19:29

    Sad, At the very least these unfortunate victims weren't committing a violent crime. Rest in peace.

  • Klaus - 2012-03-08 19:38

    Are they now on strike (unions) How do those people know who is in dis-used mine, if no one is supposed to be there

      Peter - 2012-03-09 06:23

      One of them survived to tell the story?

  • Francois - 2012-03-08 19:48

    I think we should not judge the way in which the miners died and whether it was sad per se, or whether only violent crimes should have been a better cause for their deaths. The fact is that everyone from Jacob Zuma (well maybe not him) to the most people able to read a newspaper knew that illegal mining is going on. This poses two questions: One: Why did the mine and the police not do anything to stop this, particularly the police? Two: Why is it "profitable" for these people to mine illegally or put in other words, what is wrong with our economy and the jobs that we are (not) creating that people are willing to risk their lives for so little money. Why are the syndicates not closed down? These deaths are tragic and hopefully they will not be in vain, but a pointer to government in saying you are failing the people of SA and here is proof. (Mbeki when you said that you cannot see jobless people, you were either not looking or you did not look underground). The more we tolerate Bob's antics in Zim the more people will come to SA to make whatever they can. It is easier to steal R10 in SA than it is to earn R1 in Zim! To close the mine: Mr Du Plessis, well you are just trying to get brownie points from your union members, I think. I think it wil be better to get the mine fully functional again and let Zuma and Mandela and Hulley and kie pay for the rest of their lives either with the debt or for a case of culpable homicide - well 20.

  • fmcwatts - 2012-03-08 19:56

    Strength to the Family & Friends of the Miners. Shows How desperate people are in South Africa. At Oom Kriel. You are a real Retard. Your comment is Just a reflection of who You are. I detest brain dead.. Racist.. Low life creeps like You.

  • Comrade - 2012-03-08 20:01


  • theO rAcLe - 2012-03-08 20:29

    The fact that they where there illegally does not change the fact that someone might still be alive, When are they going to try to rescue them....?. Cannot just say its impossible and leave it at that...Even if international help has to be sought, they have to be rescued or bodies removed.. Chances someone is still breathing and trapped. Or is this the way things are in SA.....Catch a wakeup someone...Start Rescue operations NOW.

  • theO rAcLe - 2012-03-08 20:32

    feared Dead does not mean they are dead for sure..International rescue operations took place when miners where trapped Km's under ground recently.... This is a horizontal shaft, get going.

  • theO rAcLe - 2012-03-08 20:34

    Trying to tell us they cannot start a new tunnel with supports to get to trapped humans....Crap.

      makesuthink - 2012-03-09 06:37

      why have you not started yet All mouth and no action

      Hunter - 2012-03-09 10:11

      Who pays for this new tunnel? Do you know what the support cost for new developments are per meter of advance? And maybe its very undtable ground (probably is, thats why the rescue is halted) which add to the support cost. There are still hunderds of bodies left in coalbrook mine. Recent colapse in NZ also have some bodies left down there. Should people risk their lives for dead people?

      Jacqui - 2012-03-09 10:34

      Hunter, imagine it was you down there. I am always amazed at the cold heartedness of some people here.

      Philemon - 2012-03-09 15:25

      Why not try to retrieve the bodies stuck on Mount Everest while you are at it. Idiot!

  • Thokozane Maloka - 2012-03-08 20:42

    I once met an Aurora employee, he had just come back from a piece job, he told me how hard life is, not having been paid for months. I could feel the pain in his voice, and this made me realize that sometimes, you do whatever it takes to put food on the table. I don't condone what these miners did, but I somehow understand what may have propelled them to carry out such activities. I wonder if Khulubuse and Zondwa sleep at night.

      Isabel - 2012-03-08 21:06

      Thokozane, I completely agree with you. If I were starving and had children to feed, I would do whatever it took, legal or not. These are not criminals, just tragic and desperate people trying to survive. The REAL criminals are the owners and management of this company who care nothing for the lives of the people who feathered their nests for them.

      Peter - 2012-03-09 06:25

      They sleep well at night, things like this don't bother people without concience's.

      seanpresherhughes_1 - 2012-03-09 09:49

      So Isabel, you are willing to break into my house, put my families lives at brisk steal/murder/mug/rob because of what you just admitted to? I will have to change the locks on all my doors immediately because according to you crime is only crime when it suites you!?

      Jacqui - 2012-03-09 10:35

      Thokozane, they sleep very well at night, it's the after life they have to fear.

      Jacqui - 2012-03-09 10:39

      Sean etc. What a childish reaction. May you never knew hunger. No one condones stealing, but wait till one of your children cries and you can't feed him/her. Will you then still be holier than thou?.

  • seanpresherhughes_1 - 2012-03-08 21:00

    Illegal means just that - illegal - what did they expect would come their way one day!

      Isabel - 2012-03-08 22:02

      Well, I hope that you're never in their situation. Can you imagine how it feels to be hungry, desperate and powerless? No? Didn't think so. At least they're not hijacking your car or burgling your house. I'm sorry for you. You are so lacking in humanity.

      Yar - 2012-03-08 23:18

      @Isabel I think that you should not be berating Sean. Hijacking and burglary are just as dishonest. This is organised crime. These individuals are not going to spend their ill-gotten gains on food. More booze, women, and flash cars. Please spend a bit of time thinking before you justify crime in any form.

      seanpresherhughes_1 - 2012-03-09 09:45

      Two wrongs don't make a right! These illegal mine workers arevvery aware of the possible consequences of their illegal mining ex. safety, which is non-existant. They know very well what they let themselves in for! And btw most of these miners are also illegal immigrants stealing jobs from our local community not even to mention tax evasion etc. What bookkeeping is there, who even knows how many workers are mining at any given time - any time sheets available - don't be naive gal!!!

      Jacqui - 2012-03-09 10:44

      Yar, it is amazing that you feel it's appropriate to read Isabel the law, but your generalizing is quite good enough. No one condones crime, some can understand mine workers not being paid having to find a way to earn moeny to feed themselves and their families. Instead of being indignant about what Isabel said be indignant about mine ownere not pahying their workers the money they are entitled to. Geez.

  • anthro45 - 2012-03-09 07:18

    Ah, some good news for a change.

  • Michael - 2012-03-09 08:06

    The same illegal mining is happening at Durban Deep

  • Moses - 2012-03-09 10:58

    i agree with ISABEL these people are victims not criminals the mines these people are invading was for many years their workplace until the owners just decided it is no longer financially viable leaving many breadwinners out of a job thus unable to support their families so doing what they used to do to support their families seems like the right thing to do,many of these men is owed many months of unpaid salaries by their fat cat bosses while these men sit penniless at home

      Randomhero6661 - 2012-03-16 12:41

      its their fault and secondly if you really and truly want employment or income you will get it (hence illegal mining) ... do you really think anyone cares bar a couple of news readers with a saint like agenda (that by next week monday would have erased this thought and carried on with their lives), it might sound horrible but these guys knew the situation they were putting themselves into they failed miserably i for one say wow unlucky but look at things holistically not emotionally.

  • Schmee - 2012-03-09 11:21

    A rock the size of a house... whose house Khulubuse Zuma's house or the miners house?

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