6 quizzed overillegal mining

BODY BAGS: The Welkom gobernment mortuary where the deceased miners' bodies are being kept. Pic: Elvis Ntombela. Circa June 2009. © Sowetan
BODY BAGS: The Welkom gobernment mortuary where the deceased miners' bodies are being kept. Pic: Elvis Ntombela. Circa June 2009. © Sowetan

WELKOM police have arrested six people in connection with the illegal mining that has left 61 people dead.

WELKOM police have arrested six people in connection with the illegal mining that has left 61 people dead.

The six were arrested yesterday in different townships around Welkom.

"We took them in for questioning. We believe they are behind illegal mining. We have not charged them yet and are just questioning them," said Director Jacob Tsumane.

He said police hopeD that the arrest of the six would lead to breaking up the illegal mining syndicates.

The suspects face human trafficking and racketeering charges.

"We believe these are the people are the bosses who send the miners underground. The miners go underground and bring the loot to the bosses for a fee."

He said police had previously arrested hundreds of illegal miners but were never unable to capture the bosses.

In a separate incident, two more bodies were discovered in a disused mine shafts in Welkom, increasing the number of dead miners since the weekend to 63. The shafts are also owned by Harmony Gold.

"Illegal mining is a thriving business in this area. It is the main source of income for a lot of families," Tsumane said.

Sowetan has learnt that one of the dead miners was found with R10000.

Harmony Gold spokesperson Ambrose Khuzwayo said the mine had tried to prevent illegal miners access to the shafts.

"We put in extra security and scanners that recognised miners by their fingerprints."

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