Magaliesburg police spokesperson Constable Rebecca Phithi said: “We were contacted by MSR Security that was on scene and we made the arrests yesterday,” Krugersdorp News reported.
She added the mine was not operational.
MSR Security operations manager Richard van der Walt said reaction officers regularly patrol the mining area.
“The mine’s manager asked Christo van der Berg, one of the reaction officers, to accompany him underground where he suspected illegal miners were working,” added Van der Walt.
He said when the two men went underground, they heard voices and chopping sounds further down the mine. They managed to apprehend three men and brought them to the surface. After going down a second time, they came across 13 more men.
“We found mining equipment like pans and chisels along with bags of gold,” he added.
According to Van der Walt, arrests have been made at this mine before, but never as big a number as yesterday. These workers, risking their lives in the unsafe old mine tunnels, sometimes go underground for up to five days.
“The men we apprehended were already going for three days,” Richard said.
In a separate incident, 14 suspected illegal gold miners were arrested in KwaZulu-Natal in September.
Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said an intelligence-driven police operation led to the arrest of the suspects believed to have been involved in illegal gold mining operations.
“Two unlicensed pistols, explosives, dagga, mine torches, cellphones suspected to be stolen, bullet proof vests and raw unprocessed gold rocks were seized from the suspects’ house near the old Klipwal mine,” added Naicker.
– Caxton News Service