Mines must stop illegal mining - Num

Num called on law enforcement agencies and mining houses to do more to curb illegal mining.

Going underground: A mine shaft. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Mineworkers (Num) on Wednesday called on law enforcement officials and mining companies to do more to curb illegal mining.

Several illegal miners, more commonly known as zama-zamas, are still believed to be trapped underground in a disused diamond mine in Kleinzee in the Northern Cape.

The Mineral Resources Department has sent a team of investigators to look into the incident.

Num's Lesiba Seshoka said, "It is very easy for anyone to just go and make a living by digging gold or diamond. The mining houses need to look into this issue."

On Wednesday, rescue operations had to be temporarily halted as the sand was unstable making it difficult for the rescuers.

However, they later continued with the operations after putting together a rescue plan.

Meanwhile, Free State police reported they had managed to rescue 18 people from a Welkom mine.

It is suspected at least four others are still trapped underground.

The police's Stephen Thakeng said they were also trying to confirm whether there were any more fatalities underground.

"During our interrogation, we discovered that there are fatalities, but we still have to verify that," he said.