19 February 2014

South Africa: The Long Walk to the Exit - the Perils of Illegal Mining


A reported 200 miners have been trapped underground since Saturday at a closed Gold One International shaft in Benoni. As police and mine security continue their standoff with the miners, the death rate from illegal mining continues to rise, with two men reported dead at a nearby mine.

From the dusty outcrop a man started making his way out of the darkness and into the glaring sun on Monday. Speaking Sotho, he convinced others to come out.

They emerged from the disused mineshaft so slowly it was painful to wait and witness. Emergency services and police have been on the scene since Sunday and to get the illegal miners to the surface, there are vague promises to the miners that there will be no arrests.

The illegal mineworkers have their doubts. Their heads pop in and out of the shaft entrance, about a square metre wide. Ekurhuleni Emergency Services and the police used a man as bait on Monday.

They let him walk free with all his belongings. From the shaft entrance, the miner posted as lookout called out in Sotho, "They let him go so they will not arrest us." So far, 25 ...

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