Deadly mine war claims another eight lives

[caption id="attachment_37269" align="alignright" width="405"] DEATH ROLL RISES: Johannesburg emergency services used an excavator to recover the body of an alleged illegal miner killed at a disused mine shaft in Daveyton at the weekend. The victim was among eight miners found murdered in the area. Picture: ALON SKUY[/caption]

A DEADLY underground mining war has erupted across Gauteng's lucrative Reef, after eight illegal miners were found murdered in and around a disused mine shaft.

The men, who are believed to be Basotho nationals, were all shot dead.

Their bodies were found in three different locations at the mine which is situated near Daveyton on the East Rand.

Five were found on Saturday next to a mine dump by security guards. Another body was found in an open field near the shaft entrance yesterday with two more located inside the shaft.

On the West Rand on Saturday, Durban Deep residents found the body of an illegal miner who had been shot dead.

The murders come three weeks after a Zimbabwean, Da Silver Mutumbami, was stoned to death in a former mine compound in Durban Deep.

Basothos, who witnessed the killing, said it was in retaliation for the shooting of three of their miners the day before.

Mutumbami, according to his family, was a car guard and not a miner.

Four months ago, 30 illegal miners on the East Rand had to be rescued after they were overpowered by a rival gang, who took their gold and sealed them inside an abandoned shaft.

The site of this incident is close to where police found the dead miners yesterday.

Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality Emergency Services yesterday had to use a mechanical digger to accesses a shaft to retrieve the two bodies.

One of the recovered bodies was seen with a balaclava over his head and wrapped in a traditional Basotho blanket.

The murders appear to be the latest in a string of deadly attacks in an ongoing war between Basotho and Zimbabwean miners trying to take control of Gauteng's disused but still lucrative gold mine shafts.

Up until now the turf war has appeared to be confined to the West Rand, where the groups have been involved in killings.

Honeydew policing cluster commander Major-General Oswald Reddy said last night the recent unrest in the area had forced police to deploy the Tactical Response Team and set up a satellite station in Durban Deep, a hot spot in the illegal mining turf war.

Police spokesman Lieutenant- Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said: "We suspect that the miners were killed in a feud between rival illegal miners trying to steal from each other.

"No arrests had been made in connection with the weekends killings," he said. - Phetane Rapetswane and Shaun Smillie