Sanco wants cops to clamp down on illegal mining after discovery of 20 bodies

The bodies of suspected illegal miners were discovered at two locations in Orkney in the North West.
The bodies of suspected illegal miners were discovered at two locations in Orkney in the North West.
  • The SA National Civic Organisation says illegal mining slaughter fields must be closed down before more bodies are discovered.
  • The bodies of 20 suspected illegal miners were discovered at two locations in Orkney in the North West this week.
  • Police have opened an inquest docket. 

The South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) has called on law enforcement authorities to intensify their efforts to curb illegal mining activity, after the discovery of the bodies of 20 suspected illegal miners in Orkney in the North West.

According to police spokesperson Sabata Mokgwabone, an inquest docket was opened after the bodies were discovered on Tuesday and Wednesday at two locations, News24 previously reported.

Five decomposed bodies were found on Tuesday evening outside an old, unused mine shaft ventilation in Lawrence Park, and 14 more were discovered along Ariston Road. Some of the bodies were wrapped in white plastic bags.

Sanco provincial chairperson Paul Sebegoe said the organisation was saddened by the discovery.

"The slaughter fields must be shut down for illegal mining operations before more dead bodies are retrieved or are, in some cases, buried clandestinely underneath the belly of the earth," Sebegoe said. 

READ | Bodies of 20 suspected illegal miners found in the North West

He added that it was a travesty of justice that such incidents were committed with impunity by so-called "zama-zamas" while municipal authorities, the Department of Mineral Resources, and law enforcement agencies seemingly turned a blind eye.

The chairperson also called for the establishment of a specialised unit to tackle economic crimes committed by ruthless syndicates that take advantage of desperate unemployed people from neighbouring countries.

"Mining houses should be held accountable for their failure to rehabilitate abandoned mines. They are indirectly responsible for illegal activities that are claiming the lives of desperate miners who are lured to death traps by ruthless crime syndicates."

Sebegoe also urged police to investigate whether human trafficking was involved.

Police said there were still no updates.

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