Time running out for illegal miners

Emergency services are hoping for more illegal miners to voluntarily resurface from a defunct mine shaft.

Emergency services are hoping for more illegal miners to voluntarily resurface from a defunct mine shaft. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Ekurhuleni emergency services say they're hoping for another 10 to 15 illegal miners to voluntarily resurface from inside an abandoned mine shaft in Benoni on the East Rand.

Speculation is that more than 300 miners are still in the shaft, with many refusing to surface because they fear being arrested.

With the search for miners suspended, rescue workers and the police service will now meet to discuss what to do next.

The men were discovered on Sunday when Ekurhuleni metro police were patrolling the area and heard screaming from the abandoned mine.

Twenty-two miners, some of them who resurfaced on their own, will appear in court this morning.

The foreign nationals are facing various charges including illegal mining.

The men had been trapped for two days at the abandoned Gold One Kleinfontein Mine in Benoni and some had to be rescued by emergency services.

It's still not clear how many more miners are still trapped underground.

Officials called off their rescue efforts at the disused mine yesterday.

They dropped notices underground warming the miners that the exit hole they drilled will be sealed in the next two weeks.

However, the remaining miners didn't respond.

Yesterday, 11 miners left the mine after officials pleaded with them, adding to the 11 who surfaced on Sunday.

Their dockets were opened by the police Organised Crime Unit and the miners are expected to appear in court this morning.