WATCH: Trapped illegal miners sneak out before cops arrive

2016-09-12 13:25
Two illegal 'zama zama' miners were arrested and taken in for questioning at the Langlaagte Police station. (Iavan Pijoos/News24)

Two illegal 'zama zama' miners were arrested and taken in for questioning at the Langlaagte Police station. (Iavan Pijoos/News24)

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WATCH: Illegal miners trapped in Langlaate

2016-09-12 11:45

Four informal miners were rescued from a disused mineshaft in Langlaagte, Johannesburg on Sunday afternoon, with more miners thought to be still trapped. Watch. WATCH

Johannesburg – Three illegal miners crawled out from a disused mineshaft in Langlaagte on Monday morning after an accomplice shouted into the tunnel that it was safe to emerge.

There were no police officers on the scene when it happened, according to a News24 video reporter, who recorded the quick escape.

The three men came out of the mine shaft and then quickly disappeared into an open field nearby. The man who earlier shouted into the disused shaft that it was safe to emerge, kept shouting at them: "Run away! Run away!"

Arrested and questioned

Police spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubela said: "We heard about the three people that got away earlier, but they got away when there [was] no police presence."

However, seven other illegal miners were arrested and taken in for questioning, with their anxious relatives sobbing as they were escorted by police.

A group of illegal miners have been trapped underground since Thursday, but there seems be to no way of knowing how many were still underground.

On Thursday, 16 of their mates went back down to try and rescue them, but only eight of the "rescuers" re-emerged.

On Saturday, another group of eight went down to try and help the miners, and then only four re-emerged.

Four miners were rescued on Sunday night, before rescue operations were suspended.

Informal miners, known as "zama zamas", work illegally in abandoned and disused mines, usually in very dangerous conditions and with rudimentary equipment.

The latest ordeal started when a group of miners at the Langlaagte Field Mine, a heritage site, did not surface on Wednesday.

The four who were brought out on Sunday said they felt weak and dizzy and that there was smoke underground that made it very difficult to breathe.

Several family and community members have been at the mine since Sunday waiting for any news.

Makhubela said the rescue was suspended late on Sunday afternoon because the conditions underground were unsafe.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  illegal miners  |  mining

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