Skip to main content

More South African miners freed; others refuse to come out for fear of arrest

By Ashley Fantz and Brent Swails, CNN
updated 12:58 PM EST, Mon February 17, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: More miners are freed Monday after two days in the mine
  • NEW: Rescuers say a total of 24 have been freed; a handful are still underground
  • Miners who are freed are taken into custody after medical checks
  • Miners were working in a long-abandoned gold mine illegally, authorities say

Benoni, South Africa (CNN) -- More miners were freed Monday after being trapped for two days in an illegal gold mine in South Africa, authorities said.

After some miners surfaced, authorities said a total of 24 had been freed, according to rescuers from ER24 emergency medical service. The miners said they were trapped on Saturday, and the rescue effort began on Sunday.

But a handful of others still underground were refusing to come out because they feared being arrested, the rescuers said.

One miner was trying to persuade the approximately six miners who were still underground to come up, ER24 said.

The mine is an abandoned gold mine in Benoni, just outside Johannesburg.

Those who have surfaced were taken to a medical station and checked for injuries, and once they cleared, were taken into custody by local police, ER24 said.

The miners who've emerged are in good health, officials said.

Earlier, boulders blocking the miners from exiting the mine were removed, ER24 reported.

Initially ER24 spokesman Werner Vermaak said that a rockslide trapped the miners. But Govan Whittles, a reporter for South Africa Eyewitness News at the scene, said the miners told rescuers that a rival group dropped boulders down the shaft to trap them.

Police looking for illegal dumping heard the men crying for help.

Gold-rich South Africa has repeatedly warned its citizens against trying to dig into old mines. Illegal mining "poses a danger not only to the miners themselves, but to the communities, as well as the economy and existing mines," Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said in September.

South Africa's Parliament has discussed legalizing the illegal mines to allow the miners to earn a living, but the cost of bringing the mines up to modern safety codes could be prohibitive.

READ: Eight bodies found after South Africa gold mine fire

READ: 10 killed, 2 rescued in China coal mine flooding

CNN's Brent Swails reported from Benoni. Christabelle Fombu and Emily Smith contributed to this report. Ashley Fantz wrote this story in Atlanta.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:42 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Successful launch of lunar orbiter, seen as a precursor for a planned mission to the surface of the moon, marks significant advance for the country's space program.
updated 3:15 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, shot while standing guard at Ottawa's National War Memorial, was known for his easygoing manner and smile.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Non-stop chatter about actress' appearance is nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
updated 6:08 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
CEO's 30-min Putonghua chat is the perfect charm offensive for Facebook's last untapped market.
updated 11:45 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
updated 4:58 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Air New Zealand's new 'Hobbit' safety video stars Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, elves and orcs.
updated 10:14 AM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
updated 11:33 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
updated 12:07 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
updated 1:48 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
updated 5:59 AM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
updated 6:21 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT