News / Africa

South African Authorities Rescue, Arrest Trapped Illegal Miners

An illegal miner is rescued from a sealed-off gold mine shaft near Johannesburg Feb. 16, 2014.
An illegal miner is rescued from a sealed-off gold mine shaft near Johannesburg Feb. 16, 2014.
TEXT SIZE - +
Anita Powell
— An unknown number of illegal miners are refusing to be rescued from a sealed-off abandoned mine near Johannesburg because they fear arrest, South African authorities said Monday. Rescue workers believe the group was trapped by a rival gang of illegal miners.  Nineteen miners had been rescued by Monday morning, rescue workers say, and police say they don’t know how many people are still underground.

South African rescue officials say they are trying to coax out illegal miners from the sealed-off mine after they were discovered to be trapped over the weekend.
 
Werner Vermaak of private emergency medical group ER24 said rescuers have sent in food and water to the miners still trapped.
 
He said he didn't know exactly how many workers were still underground.
 
“Paramedics at the moment have sent down a miner to try to negotiate with the other miners to see if he will be able to convince them to come up and be assessed by the paramedics,” said Vermaak.
 
Vermaak says the miners are thought to have been trapped since Friday, after they illegally dug an entry tunnel near the abandoned shaft.  They were discovered Sunday after police patrolling the area heard calls for help.

  • South African authorities said 22 gold miners who came out of a disused and temporarily blocked shaft, near Johannesburg over the last two days have been arrested and will be charged with illegal mining, Feb. 17, 2014.
  • Suspected illegal miners await treatment after emerging from an abandoned gold shaft in Benoni, east of Johannesburg, South Africa, Feb. 17, 2014. 
  • A suspected illegal miner talks to emergency personnel after emerging from an abandoned gold shaft in Benoni, east of Johannesburg, South Africa, Feb. 17, 2014. 
  • A suspected illegal miner climbs out of a ventilation shaft used to access an abandoned gold shaft in Benoni, east of Johannesburg, South Africa, Feb. 17, 2014. 
  • South African rescuers started bringing to the surface at least 30 illegal miners who had been trapped by debris in the abandoned gold shaft near Johannesburg, South Africa, Feb. 16, 2014.

  • A suspected illegal miner is led away after being rescued from an abandoned gold shaft in Benoni, east of Johannesburg, South Africa, Feb. 16, 2014.
  • Rescue officials use a crane to remove debris as they work to rescue trapped suspected illegal miners from an abandoned gold shaft in Benoni, east of Johannesburg, South Africa, Feb. 16, 2014.
  • A trapped illegal miner at a disused gold mine shaft is bought to the surface, near, Benoni, South Africa, Feb. 16, 2014.
  • A suspected illegal miner talks to officials after being rescued from an abandoned gold shaft in Benoni, east of Johannesburg, South Africa, Feb. 16, 2014.

South African police spokeswoman Lt. Col. Katlego Mogale said once the illegal miners are rescued, they will be arrested.  She said at least 11 rescued miners will be charged in a Johannesburg-area court on Tuesday - and offered a warning to other illegal miners.

“Those who are involved in illegal mining will be arrested.  Case in point: yesterday’s illegal miners that were trapped underneath the mine,” said Mogale.
 
Illegal mining is common in South Africa, a major producer of gold and platinum.  The nation is also plagued with a high unemployment rate, and some analysts say the problem is exacerbated by mining layoffs that force skilled workers to turn to illegal activities.
 
Vermaak said gang warfare is common in the illegal mining business.
 
“These guys were trapped when boulders were thrown back into the ventilation shaft, leaving these guys trapped.  It is not uncommon for it to happen.  It has happened before - late last year, towards the end of December, we did have a similar incident in Johannesburg where eight people were killed after they were shot by a rival group and their bodies were thrown back into a ventilation shaft,” said Vermaak.
 
Mogale said mine security is keeping an eye on the situation. She said the holdouts say they have good reason to stay underground. “The suggestion is that they are afraid they will get arrested,” said she. Mogale responded with an unequivocal “yes” to a question as to whether the miners remaining underground will be subject to arrest.
 
Vermaak added that a substantial number of illegal miners are also illegal immigrants to South Africa. With arrest often comes deportation.
 
So there they stay, trapped between a rock and a hard place.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid