Search for 20 miners called off

2012-03-10 08:35

Johannesburg - The search for at least 20 illegal miners at the closed Gravelotte gold mine on the East Rand was called off on Friday, said trade union Solidarity.

"All recovery work was called off and the mine tunnel will be sealed soon," said deputy general secretary Gideon du Plessis in a statement.

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

On Thursday, an illegal miner was rescued and claimed there was a rock the size of a house pinning down others underground, Lieutenant Colonel Tshisikhawe Ndou said at the time.

A group of men were apparently mining illegally when there was a fall of rock and they were trapped.
Gideon said 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.

Grootvlei mine

Four escaped with R310 worth of gold concentrate and five agreed to leave the mine on condition that 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 Gravelotte mine is near Grootvlei, where former Big Brother contestant Brad Wood and four others allegedly shot dead four apparently 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.

On Thursday, 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.

  • Bennie - 2012-03-10 09:35

    Is there not a few other com-rats we can put down that shaft before they seal it?? one or two spring to mind !!

      Pharaoh Malope - 2012-03-10 10:23

      Pieter Mulder

      Jacqui - 2012-03-10 12:22

      Pharaoh, this is about peope that had died. We don't need your racial insinuations today.

      Pharaoh Malope - 2012-03-10 14:09

      Revisit Bennie's question above, you'll see where Mulder fits

      Bennie - 2012-03-10 18:03

      Any one who fails the pencil test ?

  • Janice - 2012-03-10 09:36

    What if there are survivors? Are they just going to leave them there to die?

      theO rAcLe - 2012-03-10 10:17

      They cannot just leave them there, i am sure there is some sort of geneva clause that says different. they have to attempt to recover even the bodies, its not as if it is a vertical shaft mine, these mine are horizontal or incline shafts and are not very deep at all. miners there are only about 100 m from entrance horizontally.

      Marion - 2012-03-10 10:41

      I feel sorry for these guys up to a point. But they are doing crime and do we weep when other criminals die in the process of committing crime? If someone is burglarizing a house and the house collapses on him will we have sympathy for that individual? Search and recovery was attempted and it was called off because it was too dangerous. What really upsets me is that on tv news, and in this headline, they referred to these guys as 'miners', legitimizing their activities. They are not miners. They are thieves. Should at least have been referred to as 'Illegal Miners' when given a voice on national tv. Makes the mining industry look even worse in terms of mining deaths.

      Jacqui - 2012-03-10 12:23

      Winston, humaness is wasted on you then?.

      Jacqui - 2012-03-10 12:25

      Marion, what is the use of sticking a label on a dead person?.

      Jomah - 2012-03-10 12:40

      Jacqui, would you send in your father/husband/son into an area that has been closed off, is unsafe, and where a massive piece of rock has just fall down, knowing full well that the area is prone to more rock falls and they might not come out alive? Or would you like to risk some unknown person who you do not know or care about?

      Jomah - 2012-03-10 12:42

      @ The oracle. What does the Geneva convention say about dead bodies that has been left on Mount Everest?

      elspeth.hassall - 2012-03-10 13:15

      @ Oracle & Jomha....the Geneva Convention dealing with War time issues ...

      Adam - 2012-03-10 13:24

      @Marion Marion, they are criminals,not hurting,raping,thieving or killing. They are forced by the government to try and make some money, because the government cant improve the employment rate. This is unfortunate, and will let the world know what barbarians they are should they not continue the search, and at least recover the bodies.

  • carolyn.dewrance - 2012-03-10 09:56

    hope they send the search and rescue bill to Zuma and Mandela. and then bury the illegal miners. Send the rest of the unwanted scum home to their own lands.

      Jacqui - 2012-03-10 12:28

      Ivana, if Mandela and Zuma have paid there workers what they owed them, there wouldn't have been need of illegal activities. Both these despicable two should be jailed. Where is Cosatu now?.

  • Ivana - 2012-03-10 11:44

    Of course they did wrong and knew the risks, plus knew it was totaly illegal, but at the end of the day, I believe we have all done stupid things (perhaps not illegal, but stupid) and since they were not violent hardened murderers or rapists etc, but just silly men, looking for :a quick buck" illegaly and dangerously, one must surely feel the need to feel sympathy for the way in which they died, if they had lived, they would have been charged and sent to jail I am sure. Mandela and Zuma are not to blame, it was there property and off limits and rules are rules, they were trespassing and stealing, but we can at least have genuine sympathy for them as they were not physically harming anyone other than themselves and they have paid the ultimate price. RIP and hopefully others will learn from this very sad incident and it will put them off. My husband is a Coal Mining Engineer and he says a rescue operation would be far too dangerous, look what they had to do in New Zealand? The same thing, seal it off. Very sad.

      alansmartSnr - 2012-03-10 15:02

      @Ivana..You seem to think that these Zama Zama's (thats what they are called) are not violent. They are well armed and their have been several "shoot outs" underground with SAPD and Mine Security in support. Legal miners and employees are often too scared to go into "their" territory.

      Ivana - 2012-03-11 01:57

      alansmartsnr. Thank you for that. They certainly need to be "rounded up and locked away" Well in this case, It is good that they are no longer around to shoot at innocent Security and SAPD and their horrible death was without doubt, their own fault. Must say that both you and I have had a problem with "their" and "there", my mistake which I spotted after posting,although I thank you for pointing it out. Did you notice yours!?

  • Jacqui - 2012-03-10 12:17

    That was quick, couldn't they have searched a while longer?. I feel for the families, more hardship, poor people.

  • Gaby - 2012-03-10 12:22

    These men are somebodies son, somebodies father. Is life so cheap in SA? Is one life more valuable than another?

  • dooskop - 2012-03-10 12:24

    I am daughter of a late mine worker my pops was underground 45 years' come on now!!!!! its illigal and STUPID to do what those unskilled men do!!!!! sorry ... but r.i.p.

  • Ahmed - 2012-03-10 12:34

    well my dear miners tough luck your time ran out and less thieves inthe country.

  • curtiswelliem - 2012-03-10 15:00

    Damn white people are cruel. So they dont want to rescue these miners because they entered the mine illegal and they want to seal the entrances, while there are still people inside. Man thus cold and evil. If these people were white illegal miners, everything was going to be done to take them out, but just because they are black, they want to seal the mine instead of rescuing them. Thus bad. People have to understand why Juju is always advocating for nationalisation of mines!!!

      Irene - 2012-03-10 15:09

      If you feel so strongly about and insist on playing the race card, why don't you put your life at risk and go and rescue your criminal buddies?

      Michelle Kirsten - 2012-03-10 15:24

      The others confirmed the 20 are dead. So if rescue workers got endangered to recover corpses, then you would say the white people were cruel to send them underground. Why, for that matter, are the idiots who criticise white people also always the ones who assume the white people were in charge? Inferiority complex much? Ever occur to you that there could be rescue operators or mining engineers who are black, who could also advise against continuing recovery efforts? YOU are rascist towards your own people in assuming they are always being controlled by the evil white imperialists! Shame on you.

      alansmartSnr - 2012-03-10 15:28

      @ curtiswelliem.. You probably don't know or have forgotten the Coalbrook collapse (near Sasolburg) Where they, after 6 days blasted the shafts of the mine closed and left 453 miners (presumed dead) to their own fate. It's still closed but the memorial plate is visible from the road. At least these were legal miners and I might and my point is that there were more whites than black victims in this tradgedy. Politics had nothing to do with the decision to close the mine in totality.

      Michelle Kirsten - 2012-03-10 15:33

      Also occurs to me, if the evil white cruel people wanted to really mess you guys up, they would leave the mines open so more illegal miners, or even just adventurous kids, would be endangered! They want to seal it off to PREVENT more tragedies. (Insert insult of choice here)

      Gail - 2012-03-10 20:11

      Curtiswelliem - Pse re-read the article before talking rubbish. The mine where these men were killed is owned by Zuma's nephew and Mandela's grandson and Solidarity secretary Gideon du Plessis was the one who conveyed the decision made by the engineers employed by Mandela and Zuma, that it was too dangerous to risk trying to recover bodies which are already buried. They also said that they woud be sealing the mine to prevent further illegal mining and potential rockfalls, something which should have been attended to by Zuma and Mandela family who own this mine. Nowhere is it stated that white people made this decision and while it is possible and even probable that the engineers are white employed by Zuma and Mandela family due to lack of skilled engineers, this doesn't warrant Juju's calls for nationalisation or his calls to kill boers who are farmers. In fact if this mine had been owned by by white people the chances are the mine would have been sealed off long ago. The four whites mentioned in Aurora case had to shoot people to stop them potentially killing themselves and other innocent by mining illegally there. It is sad that these men and their families had to pay the ultimate price but look to the ANC fatcats if you want to blame someone. If mines are nationalised you can expect more deaths because unskilled greedy ANC people own them and don't maintain the safety of their workers by ensuring that the mine shafts are safe.

  • Tebogo Ngulube - 2012-03-10 16:32

    why! this is cruel wht abt their families who dn't knw where there are.

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