Bodies of two illegal miners found at Harmony Mine, Free State

Free State police spokesperson Stephen Thakeng says the pair that was found dead were Lesotho nationals.

Illegal miners commly known as zama zamas travel deep underground each day , in work dubbed the world's worst job.Picture: Screengrab/CNN

JOHANNESBURG - Free State police have found the bodies of two illegal miners at the Harmony Mine in Welkom, and arrested 22 other miners involved in illegal activities at the shaft.

Authorities say the miners used a ventilation shaft to go underground, in search of gold.

The arrests come a week after three illegal miners were found dead at the Langlaagte Mine shaft, in Gauteng, this week.

WATCH: Families'anguish as illegal miners remain trapped

Free State police spokesperson, Stephen Thakeng says the pair that was found dead were originally from Lesotho.

"They had some name tags on their arms and that's how we realised they were Lesotho nationals. At this stage we have registered two cases of inquest."


Earlier in the week, Mining and Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane said while the department has arrested about 800 illegal miners this year, he has noted that some taking part in the crime are as young as 12-years-old.

Zwane said illegal mining is a major problem that the department has been battling to curtail.

"We have arrested, this year only, around 800 illegal miners; and that doesn't only include the people who are sent by the kingpins. We also arrest the king pins."

He added that his department has approached the African Union to try and assist.

The Minister also said that permits will be given to incorporate communities in mining areas to begin legally mining where conditions are still conducive.

WATCH: Zama zamas emerge after rescue called off at Langlaagte mine

Additional reporting by Masa Kekana