South African police are investigating the discovery of at least 21 dead at an operational mine in Krugersdorp, west of Johannesburg, thought to be illegal miners.
Police say 19 bodies were discovered Wednesday afternoon, with two more discovered Thursday morning. The victims, according to the police, were transferred to the location where they were discovered, which is a privately owned mine.
On Thursday, police spokesperson Brenda Muridili stated, “They were found in an open (mine) shaft.”
“We can confirm that this morning our search and rescue team went back to the scene and, as they were searching, they discovered two more bodies.
The terrible discovery is the most recent in a series of incidents involving illicit mining in the Krugersdorp area. In July, eight female film crew members were raped and robbed while working on a music video shoot at an abandoned mine in the area.
The tragedy sparked violent protests against illegal miners in adjacent villages.
Rape and robbery charges were dropped against 14 men last week after DNA evidence failed to link them to the rapes. The men were detained during police raids on the abandoned mine where the rapes happened.
Illegal mining is common in South Africa, where people known as “zama zamas” go to old, closed mines in and around Johannesburg to look for gold. Krugersdorp is a mining town on the western outskirts of Johannesburg.
Authorities consider illicit mining gangs dangerous since they are frequently armed and have been known to engage in violent territorial disputes with competing groups; the trade is considered to be dominated by illegal immigrants from neighbouring countries Lesotho, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.
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