Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Body search ends at gold mine shaft

The search at the South African gold mine has now ended (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

South African police have called off a search at an abandoned gold mine near Johannesburg after finding four bodies in the shaft.

Police spokeswoman Colonel Noxolo Kweza said the bodies were recovered on Thursday after the four were shot dead by mine guards.

The mine east of Johannesburg is owned by relatives of Nelson Mandela and president Jacob Zuma.

Emergency services spokesman Roggers Mamaila said the search resumed on Friday morning but no more bodies were found.

"All emergency members are returning to base, we are certain there are no more bodies," he said.

Paul Mkhabela, who said he used to bring miners working illegally to the mine each day, said only two of the five miners he brought there on Monday had survived.

"I always bring them in the morning, drop them near the mine and fetch them the next day," he said. "They come back with bags of dirty soil which they wash to extract the gold."

South Africa is one of the world's largest gold producers and has some of the world's deepest mines. Illegal mining is common.

Last year, more than 80 prospectors were found dead in one of the country's abandoned gold mines.

Police say illegal miners are hired by organised crime rackets.

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