Mine crackdown nets 184

THE number of illegal miners arrested in the Barberton gold mines in Mpumalanga has almost doubled since the first raid a week ago.

Ninety-seven illegal miners, including 21 minors between the ages of 14 and 17, were arrested at Fair View Mine, Barberton, on December 15 and the day after.

In follow-up raids on Thursday and Friday police made a further arrest of 87 illegal miners, including 18 minors, bringing the total arrests to 184.

The first 97 detainees have already made their appearance in the Barberton magistrate's court and their case was postponed to tomorrow for formal bail application.

Captain Leonard Hlathi indicated that more raids would be conducted and more arrests were expected.

He said, according to unconfirmed information "many more illegal miners remained in the mine and the (mine) security officers are searching for them".

Hlathi said the arrested 39 minors were mostly schoolchildren who were on year-end holidays.

"Instead of resting and preparing themselves for school next year they get involved in this illegal and dangerous activity," he said.

"That alone is a huge risk since their lives would be cut short at a very tender age of these activities are allowed to continue.

"It is a worrying factor that these children, who spend days in the mines, were not even reported missing by their parents.

"For us to rescue them from the mines leaves much to be desired about their parents.

"Let us not allow our children to be engaged in such dangerous activities."

Hlathi said that earlier this year a total of 19 bodies were recovered from the Barberton mines.