Group of illegal miners prepare to go underground to rescue trapped colleagues

A mine worker is seen underground. Picture: SIPHIWE SIBEKO / REUTERS
A mine worker is seen underground.

A group of about 20 illegal miners‚ including a relative of one of the zama-zamas as the illegal miners are referred to‚ were preparing to go down the disused Langlaagte mine shaft at midday on Tuesday to rescue some of their trapped colleagues.

Mandla Sibanda accompanied the group to look for his brother who is believed to be one of the two missing illegal miners still trapped underground.

Official rescue operations conducted by the Mine Rescue Services remained suspended on Tuesday following the recovery of a miner’s body and another injured miner late on Monday.

Several miners have emerged on their own or been rescued since the recovery operations started on Sunday but they were later arrested. However‚ there was hardly any police presence on Tuesday morning.

Sibanda said a sangoma‚ who had been advising the families and friends of the trapped miners since the incident‚ had told them that at least one member of the affected families should also join the rescue team established by the zama-zamas.

“I know I’m risking a lot by going there. I’m scared too but I’m just taking the instructions from a person that knows better than I do. I hope that me going down will help retrieve those that are still trapped underground‚” Sibanda said as he strapped on his home-made mining gear.

The group carried bags with food and batteries while others drank Mageu‚ a nutritious beverage‚ before they descended.

“We are not sure of what awaits us but we will do our best to bring our comrades to the surface‚” said another illegal miner.

At around 11am two illegal miners surfaced but it soon emerged that they were from a different group that had gone underground two weeks ago.




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