THE bodies of the three illegal Zimbabwean miners that died after being trapped in a disused gold mine in Langlaagte, west of Johannesburg have been taken to a government mortuary in Hillbrow awaiting repatriation to Zimbabwe while of the seven that are facing criminal charges, one is another Zimbabwean.
Captain Kay Makhubele said police arrested four illegal miners when they came out of the mine on Sunday, and they nabbed another three on Monday.
“All seven illegal miners will face charges of illegal mining at the Johannesburg Magistrate Court soon. The corpses of the three dead illegal miners were taken to a government mortuary in Hillbrow,” Makhubele said.
The three deceased are Sibangani Tsika, 24 years old from Braamfischer but originally from Tsholotsho, Njabulo Sibanda, 31 years old from Nkayi but was resident in Johannesburg’s Diepsloot and Williard Nyoni.
At the time of going to press, ZimsInSA.com had confirmed that at least one of the seven facing criminal charges is a Zimbabwean, though reports seem to imply that all the miners who had gone underground were all Zimbabweans.
Mineral and Resources Minister, Mosebenzi Zwane, visited the mine on Monday, where pleaded with the families of illegal miners not to send “untrained” people underground in a bid to rescue those trapped.
But the chairperson of the Zimbabwean Community in South Africa, Ngqabutho Mabhena, criticised the South African government for calling off the rescue operation, saying it was arrogant.
“The South African government, through the Ministry of Mineral Resources, took a decision to abandon this (rescue mission) claiming that there was no one inside. But we have proven that indeed people are here, we have brought two bodies,” Mabhena said after two bodies were brought to the surface by volunteers on Tuesday.
“This, in our view, is arrogance at its best. Because the minister when he came here yesterday, he came in like a pop star. He simply just addressed the families without engaging them. He had not interest in talking with the people who work in this mine.”
Mabhena also took a swipe at officials from the Zimbabwean Consulate , who he said had promised them help but disappeared and never came back.
“We are disappointed by our own Zimbabwean government. When we arrived here yesterday, we had officials from the Zimbabwean Consulate. They had said to us they will come back in the afternoon. But up to this hour, they have never come or supported their own nationals,” Mabhena said.
As many as 16 people were thought to have illegally y entered Johannesburg’s oldest gold mine at George Harrison Park last week and had become trapped underground. Several other people were known to have gone into the disused mine to try and rescue those stuck underground.
On Monday Mining and Rescue Services personnel brought the body of an illegal miner to the surface. They also rescued had another miner, who was in a critical condition. He was taken to Helen Joseph Hospital.
On Tuesday night, relatives and friends of the trapped illegal miners went underground and retrieved two bodies after Mining Rescue Services and police had called off the search – Patience Rusere