Lesotho Pleads With SA Govt to Retrieve 31 Illegal Miners’ Bodies Trapped in Welkom Mine After an Explosion

Lesotho Pleads With SA Govt to Retrieve 31 Illegal Miners’ Bodies Trapped in Welkom Mine After an Explosion

  • The death of 31 illegal miners believed to be Lesotho natives has rocked South Africa
  • The Lesotho government has pleaded with South Africa to help retrieve the bodies of its citizens from the disused mine in Free State
  • The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy said the conditions in the shaft are too dangerous to send in a rescue team

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WELKOM - SA's Mineral Resources and Energy Department made the bombshell revelation that 31 illegal miners believed to be Lesotho citizens were killed in an explosion at an abandoned mine in the Free State.

31 foreign illegal miners died in an explosion at an abandoned mine in Welkom
The Lesotho government has asked South Africa to help it retrieve the bodies of 31 illegal miners who died in a Free State mine shaft. Image: Edrea du Toit & Tyler Stableford
Source: Getty Images

Now the spokesperson to the Lesotho Prime Minister, Thapelo Mabote, is pleading with the South African government to help retrieve the bodies that have been trapped since the explosion.

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Speaking on Newzroom Afrika, Mabote said that while the Lesotho government does not condone illegal mining, they would like to repatriate the bodies of the deceased and return them to their families.

Mabote pleaded:

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"Culturally and otherwise, can we take the bodies back home now that they are dead? Can we get the support of the South African government? What can we do to join hands together and bring them back home?"

Mineral resource and energy department reveals explosion was caused by methane gas

The explosion, which allegedly occurred in a ventilation shaft at the Virginia mine in the third week of May, is believed to have been caused by a methane explosion.

The DMRE said that an investigation uncovered that the methane levels in the ventilation shaft were extremely high, resulting in the explosion, SowetanLIVE reported.

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In light of that, the DMRE said it is too risky to dispatch a search team to the abandoned mine shaft to recover the bodies. But the department is still considering its options.

South Africans slam Lesotho government for requesting help to retrieve miners' bodies

Below are some comments:

@rbson_selahla stated:

"So these guys are working for the Lesotho government. They steal and export to Lesotho."

@Lungs_star claimed:

"The Lesotho government must be allowed to come fetch its people from underground without using or even needing any of our country's resources."

@lolobee052 said:

"Let those criminals rot in there."

@sipho_siphobots speculated:

"The Lesotho govt is complicit in illegal mining in SA."

@DeeDeNjoms questioned:

"What is the Lesotho Gov doing to stop their people from illegal mining in SA?'

@That_GuyWarning suggested:

"So the government of Lesotho knows these guys... interesting. RIP to them but let's bury them where they are and implode that mine."

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Illegal mining booms in Brazilian Amazon ‘Promised Land’

In another story, Briefly News reported that working under an improvised shed hidden in the rainforest, Webson Nunes hears a shout and flips on his winch, hauling a colleague up from deep inside a giant hole with a bucket full of riches.

Nunes, 28, and his four colleagues are "garimpeiros," illegal miners who dig for precious minerals -- in their case, at a wildcat copper mine outside Canaa dos Carajas, a small city at the edge of the Brazilian Amazon that has become a boom town in recent years thanks to mining.

Canaa -- Portuguese for Canaan, the Biblical "Promised Land" -- is a place of extremes: At one end of the spectrum sits mining giant Vale, which runs one of the world's biggest open-air mines here.

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Source: Briefly News

Lerato Mutsila avatar

Lerato Mutsila (Current affairs editor) Lerato Mutsila is a journalist with 3 years of experience. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Pearson Institute of Higher Education in 2020, majoring in broadcast journalism, political science and communication. Lerato joined the Briefly News current affairs desk in August 2022. Mutsila is also a fellow of the 2021/2022 Young African Journalists Acceleration programme, which trained African journalists in climate journalism. You can contact Lerato at lerato.mutsila@breifly.co.za