South Africa Illegal Miners Refuse Rescue

south africaAttempts to rescue miners in an old South African gold mine have come to a halt when the remaining miners refused any attempts at rescue. So far, 12 miners have been rescued and then arrested and the remaining illegal miners, witnessing their colleague’s fate, are now refusing help.  The old mine shaft is in a dilapidated condition, making it all but impossible for rescue staff to go in after them, Emergency Rescue 24 said.

Emergency works spent Sunday clearing debris from the mine shaft entrance in order to get at the trapped workers. However, the miners were working illegally at the forsaken mine and now some are staying below ground instead of coming up to face possible criminal charges. At least twelve miners have been rescued from the mine on the outskirts of Johannesburg; however, there are an unknown number of minors still in the gold mine and police are starting to question those who did come up about how many may still be down there.

The mine is not so abandoned; a Chinese owned company, Gold One, possesses the prospecting rights to the mine. Albeit, no one has been in the mine for some time now which may have led the illegal miners to believe it was indeed abandoned. Whether the mine was abandoned or not makes little difference to authorities, permits and prospecting rights are still needed to mine in South Africa.

South Africa Rescue staff stopped all attempts to talk the rest up as night fell, but left a staff of security guards in the area plus a ladder should the remaining minors who have so far refused rescue have a “change of heart” and decide to come up. There is no official word on whether or not aid and food was lowered down to those that are refusing to come up; however, the twelve that have been rescued were checked by medics and none seem to have any life-threatening injuries.

It just so happened that a police patrol was near the abandon mine in the suburb of Benoni, a semi-rural area outside of Johannesburg, South Africa, when they heard the pleas for help coming from the trapped miners. Rescues and arrests soon followed. Some of the rescued miners claim there is more than 200 illegal miners still down deep in the mines; however, there is no confirmed number by authorities.

The rescue staff had to employ the use of a crane to remove a large slab of concrete that was blocking the entrance to the mine. The illegal miners had dug a tunnel right next to a ventilation shaft in order to originally gain entry; however, the tunnel collapsed, trapping the miners. Recent heavy rains in the area could have caused the collapse, officials said.

This is not an uncommon practice in South Africa; illegal mining is everywhere. The penalty can be quite severe, including trespassing and theft all the way to smuggling. These are some good reasons why these illegal miners in South Africa may be refusing rescue.

By Adam Stier

Sources:

Reuters
USA Today
Bloomberg News

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