RIGA RESCUERS SAVE ANOTHER ILLEGAL MINER

BRENDAN ROANE AND SAPA

brendan.roane@inl.co.za

A MAN with a broken leg was the 12th illegal miner rescued from a mine in Springs yesterday, Ekurhuleni Emergency Management Services said.

“He just has a broken leg. For someone who went through such an ordeal, he looks fine,” senior district manager Roggers Mamaila said.

He was taken to Far East Rand Hospital.

Earlier yesterday, a mine rescue team was called in to rescue the 12th man still trapped in the shaft before the bodies of four men could be taken out.

One of the rescuers who had already gone down into the belly of the shaft on Sunday to save three other illegal miners said it was difficult to choose which life to save.

“The decisions you make as to who lives and who dies are always hard,” said Graham Holmquist, from Riga Rescue.

He went down into the shaft on Sunday afternoon to get the men onto stretchers and helped hoist them up to the surface.

Riga Rescue is a unit of qualified urban search and res- cue volunteers, with firefighters, paramedics and missing- persons specialists, who give up their time for emergencies.

Four illegal miners were confirmed dead and another 11 were still in hospital with injuries after they were allegedly held hostage and shot by a gang of opposing miners, Mamaila said.

Springs, after the gang had fled early on Sunday morning.

An illegal miner said they had been held hostage since Thursday evening, beaten, shot and pushed down steep shafts.

They were apparently forced to mine for the gang, which made off with bags of ore on Sunday morning.

National Union of Mine- workers (NUM) general secretary Frans Baleni yesterday called on the Department of Mineral Resources to take action.

“The issue of illegal miners is of great concern to NUM; at some point there was a task team established to deal with illegal mining,” he said. 

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