Three miners were killed after a portion of an old mine in Mpumalanga collapsed, according to police.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said the men, who were in their 40s, died underground at the old gold mine in Sabie on Saturday. The area was once a gold mining hub.
Police suspect they were mining illegally.
"The men got trapped inside the mine when a portion of the mine shaft caved in on them," said Hlathi.
"As a result, the matter was reported to the police and paramedics after the victims were brought to the surface by their friends, whereupon their arrival (police and paramedics) these men were certified dead."
Preliminary investigations indicated that the men were part of a group allegedly conducting illegal mineral extraction.
In a statement, Mpumalanga police commissioner Lieutenant General Mondli Zuma condemned illegal mining and warned that it was dangerous.
Further details on the miners were not immediately available.
Do you want to know more about this topic? Sign up for one of News24's 33 newsletters to receive the information you want in your inbox. Special newsletters are available to subscribers.