Search for dead miners 'not illegal'

Alfred Moselakgomo

Alfred Moselakgomo

Mpumalanga police will not stop relatives searching for the bodies of five illegal miners who were buried alive in a disused Barberton mine.

A rescue was called off last week when rocks started falling into the mine shaft hampering the recovery efforts of an expert team from Secunda.

Two weeks ago Mandla Mongase, 43, Emmanuel Madolo, 45, Melanie Abraham, 48, Linda Fakude, 21, Nkosinathi Fakude, 21, Xolile Maziya, 26, and Mandla Zithata, 22, went into a 120m deep shaft to search for left-over gold.

When they tried to get out of the mine, rocks began to fall and only Maziya and Zithata escaped unhurt.

They reported the matter to the police and a rescue team from Secunda was dispatched but called off the search after two days.

The move angered friends and relatives of the trapped miners who vowed to recover the bodies themselves.

MEC for Safety and Security Dina Pule visited the mine at the weekend and tried to convince the friends not to risk their lives but the pleas were ignored.

"We advised them not to endanger their lives by getting in but they said they were prepared to die," police said.

The miners' friends were given renewed hope of recovering the bodies when the smell became stronger.

Police said no one would be arrested because what they attempted to do was not illegal.