Family in search of missing miner

THE family of a man who allegedly disappeared when a number of illegal miners were arrested in Barberton in December last year is demanding answers from the Mpumalanga police and security guards.

THE family of a man who allegedly disappeared when a number of illegal miners were arrested in Barberton in December last year is demanding answers from the Mpumalanga police and security guards.

Vusi Maluleka was allegedly one of 12 illegal miners who were arrested in the Fairview mine in Barberton on December 19 last year.

Two other men who managed to escape from the mine before being arrested, Mduduzi Monareng and Mhlengisi Magwaza, said they left the 12 with the arresting officers when they made their escape.

They alleged they got out of the mine through another secret exit without being noticed.

"We went home and told other family members that other people we were with had been arrested," said Monareng.

"Together with other family members we visited the arrested people atBarberton police station but to my surprise my uncle Vusi Maluleka was not there."

Monareng claimed that some of the arrested people told him that the security guards had allegedly handcuffed his uncle and "severely assaulted him until he bled from his ears and nostrils".

He said he was told that when the guards realised that Maluleka was no longer able to walk they left him in the hands of five security guards while others escorted the other arrested people out of the mine where the police had been waiting.

"We were told the security guards came out without Maluleka and laughed when they were asked about his whereabouts," said Magwaza.

Barberton police spokesperson Sergeant Jabu Ndubane said a case of a missing person was registered at the police station and that police were still looking for Maluleka.

"We as police cannot be held responsible for the disappearance of a man who got lost in the mine he entered illegally of his own free will," Ndubane said.

She said the investigations over the disappearance were continuing.

She confirmed that more than 300 illegal miners were arrested in the mines in Barberton towards the end of last year and the beginning of this year.

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