Illegal miner found dead (South Africa)

A body of an illegal miner Mabasa Machipanda, who was trapped in a condemned mine at the old Durban Deep Mine in Soweto, was retrieved by rescuers yesterday morning.

The 18 year old from Zimbabwe got trapped inside the old mine on Thursday last week.

Other illegal miners who were also working underground with him, escaped unharmed and alerted the police. “His body was found in the early hours of yesterday morning as rescue operations continued through the night,” said Johannesburg Emergency services spokesperson Synock Matobako.

Earlier attempts to retrieve the miner last week were suspended on Friday because it was too dangerous to continue with the search. The operations resumed on Monday.

“His body was badly injured. His hands were broken and he also had a huge injury in the head. We think he fell onto rocks,” said his brother Ernest Machipanda. The youth had come to South Africa in search of work about a year ago but could not find employment and ended up resorting to illegal mining to earn a living.

Now his family is struggling to raise funds to bury him back home in Zimbabwe.

“Right now I am in agony,” Ernest Machipanda said. He also has the task of arranging for his brother’s body to be sent back home to his family.

“So far we have managed to get R6000, but we need more money. We require at least R12000 to take his body home for burial. We’ll be leaving on Sunday,” Machipanda said.

The tragedy of illegal mining continues claiming lives in South Africa.

More than 40 illegal miners have been killed in a number of incidents this year alone. In March, more than 22 illegal miners were killed by an underground fall in an unused mine in Springs. In the Northern Cape, more than 20 illegal miners died after a tunnel collapsed.

Matobako said illegal mining was a huge problem and cited poverty and unemployment as driving factors behind it.

“We believe that people who have worked in the mines before and lost their jobs are involved in these activities. High levels of poverty and unemployment are behind illegal mining,” he added.


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