Miners' bodies to be left underground

2012-03-12 14:41

Johannesburg - The bodies of illegal miners trapped at the Gravelotte gold mine on the East Rand are likely to remain underground, trade union Solidarity said on Monday.

"The tunnel is likely to be sealed off. It is a tragic situation," deputy general secretary Gideon du Plessis said.

He said rescuers were going to recommend to the department of mineral resources on Monday that the shaft should be sealed off because it was too dangerous to recover the bodies. The search for at least 20 illegal miners was called off on Friday.

Du Plessis said the rescue team had said only one body could be recovered because the area was unstable.


The group of men were apparently mining illegally when a fall of rock trapped them underground. Rescuers later found a group of men still mining illegally in the vicinity.

"These men confirmed that at least 20 of their comrades had died in the rockfall," he said.

The rescuers tried to convince the men to leave the area because the mine would be sealed off and they risked being trapped.

Four escaped with R310 worth of gold concentrate. Five agreed to leave the mine on condition they would not be prosecuted. The other 28 illegal miners refused to leave.

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

The mine is near Grootvlei, where former Big Brother contestant Brad Wood and four others allegedly shot dead four 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, 2011.

- Are you there? Send us your eyewitness accounts and photos.

  • Jim - 2012-03-12 14:59

    Well I do care about these poor desperate guys. If you were so desperate to feed yourself and family would you have the balls to go into a mine like this risking your life Pythagoras? I very much doubt it. All you can come up with is a derogatory comment that reflects your own pathetic attitude to life. I do not necessarily see these men committing a crime so much; rather their circumstances dictating what they were trying to do. Very sad all round.

      Deon - 2012-03-12 15:07

      At the end of the day they were criminals. Why did they not try and get work at a different mine?

      TheJaydedKing - 2012-03-12 15:09

      I get the point but isnt that like saying its okay to steal if you are desperate to feed your family?

      procold2 - 2012-03-12 15:35

      jade i am sort of with jim here, desperate times need desperate measures, if my family was starving i would do anything to prevent them suffering and to find other work as deon says is not so easy

      Mike - 2012-03-12 15:50

      @jim - they deserve what happened to them - you cannot just go around and do what you like - too many people in the country - do things the right way - good riddance

      Martin - 2012-03-12 16:16

      self preservation is the highest law, above man and god

      Steve - 2012-03-12 18:32

      So its ok to steal if you are poor, please let me know where you hide your money Jim, thank you i will be really grateful

  • Katlego - 2012-03-12 15:02

    Was that necessary to mention who owns the mine. Just leave them to save taxpayer money

      chris.debeer1 - 2012-03-12 16:53

      Yes it was Bloody imperialist owners I agree with malema nationalize this mine !! Poor people are starving while Fat Cats Imperialist Pigs drive flashy German cars and wear Italian suits.

      James - 2012-03-12 17:11

      nice one Chris, its about time the truth of the identities of the real mine owners are starting to surface, won't Julias be surprised.

      Steve - 2012-03-12 18:34

      Yes because its another BEE UTIFUL deal gone wrong.

  • Peter - 2012-03-12 15:09

    If the mine was owned by anyone else than Zuma's nephew and Mandela's grandson would the situation and decisions be the same???I doubt it. The courts and those in the Govt would want justice to be done to the owners.

      Tony Lapson - 2012-03-12 15:26

      Also, the mine and area should have been sealed off upon liquidation to prevent the possibility of open mineshafts being explored by desperate and unemployed people. But let's not blame the multimillionaire fat-cats.

      Hunter - 2012-03-12 15:43

      Tony, the multimillionare fatcats would have subtracted the closure cost from the selling price to Pamodzi - that's why it was such a bargain in terms of price paid directly, only problem is they went under financially and now the current owners are even worse. If the DMR seriously enforce their laws, this can be stopped, but it is easier for them to stop production at a mine currently owned by the multimillionaire fatcats, due to safety concerns, than sort out this mess.

      Vusi - 2012-03-13 13:48

      Did anybody say "fat cats"? Watch Zuma's nephew (he was apparently too fat to attend court!!) here:

  • Charles - 2012-03-12 15:09

    It is assumed that the 20 unaccounted for miners are dead. There is no evidence to substantiate that though. Imagine the horror of being seriously injured and trapped in a pitch dark hole in the earth and being left to die of thirst and hunger. If for some reason there is water in the vicinity of the rock fall and surivors are able to drink it, they could concievably cling to life for another month or so. There would no doubt always be the hope that someone might rescue you. The decision to abandone rescue attempts puts paid to that hope but any survivors would be oblivious to it. Is there a law pertaining to these illegal mining activities or is the only consequence a trespassing charge laid by the owner of the rights?

      Deon - 2012-03-12 15:21

      It is also attemted theft, clearly a criminal offence.

      Pieter - 2012-03-12 17:28

      It is also very reckless to send in rescue teams in an unsafe mineshaft - as there is no way to guarantee safety in any reasonable terms, with no evidence supporting that anyone is still alive down there

  • drummond.doig1 - 2012-03-12 15:10

    Are the authorities sure that these guys are dead? Would be terrible if some of them are still alive, regardless of what they were doing.

      Deon - 2012-03-12 15:54

      The changes are too big that the more people will die when attempting to rescue them. This is the only reason they were left there.

  • dooskop - 2012-03-12 15:10

    They were given an ultimative!!!!! whats the big deal to mention who owns the mine???? we all know of the rackateering thats in our midst!!!!!

  • Sizakele - 2012-03-12 16:09

    How many tmes the told them not to go the is dangerous,if you desparete you dont have to risk your life or still the is a lot of people who can help you if you desparete.

  • berni.venter - 2012-03-12 16:37

    Why mention who the mine belongs to? Because it remains their responsibility to ensure that the mine has been closed off properly to ensure that lives are not lost. This amounts to negligence on the mine owners part and should the rescue/recovery mission go ahead they should be held liable for the costs. Mining is a very dangerous job under the best of circumstances and in abandoned/closed mines even more so. I am certain that every effort has been made to ensure that there are no signs of life and that to avoid further loss of life the shaft gets sealed off properly this time at the fat cats expense and not the taxpayers!

  • Tshe - 2012-03-12 16:38

    I wonder whether had it been foreigners from any of NATO Alliance or US down there.The whole world will be shaking about the incompetence of the current government and would have been subjected to all sorts of pressure to take them out, whether dead or alive.

  • Khanyiswa Khanya Ngxishe - 2012-03-12 16:53

    @mike how can u be so heartless!!!

  • Mona - 2012-03-12 17:25

    so sad!

  • Winsome - 2012-03-12 19:17

    Sorry to show ignorance, but is this mine still running or is it closed down? How do illegal miners get into a mine shaft - is there no security there?

  • pages:
  • 1