Body recovered from sinkhole
Joyce Shongwe's family had hoped she would be brought out of the mine shaft alive. But it was not to be.
Rescue workers yesterday afternoon recovered the body of the 41-year-old who had been trapped in an underground tunnel since Tuesday night.
The earth literally swallowed Shongwe while she was sitting outside a neighbour's shack in Makausi squatter camp in Primrose, Ekurhuleni.
She had been melting copper when the ground gave in beneath her.
Johannesburg Emergency Services' spokesman Johan van der Heever said the search for the woman began on Tuesday night.
Emergency services personnel tried to reach Shongwe through an abandoned mine shaft that they hoped would connect them to the pit in which the woman was believed to be trapped.
But the paramedics were forced to try another shaft yesterday - this time succeeding in reaching the pit.
Joyce Shongwe, however, was dead. Her body was recovered at about 1pm.
Death was not what Shongwe's family were expecting and they were overwhelmed with grief.
Ngosi Maswanganyi, Shongwe's sister in-law, said yesterday that she could not believe that Joyce was gone.
"I prayed every night for her safety," she sobbed.
Shongwe's husband, Sam Maluleke, will now have to raise their two children, aged seven and 13, alone.
Maswanganyi said her brother and his son, Innocent, had kept vigil near the hole down which Shongwe fell since Tuesday.
"They refused to sleep. They both wanted to be there when she was found," she said.
Hundreds of local people watched as a team of about eight men searched for Shongwe in the pit.
Onlookers were perched in trees and on roof tops.
Emergency Services' Van der Heever said people whose shacks were near the sinkhole would be evacuated.
Ekurhuleni's housing department said that many residents in the vicinity of the sinkhole were reluctant to be moved to a safer area.